Medical devices, medicines not reaching hospitals due to lockdown though exempted by Govt

AiMeD appeals to local administration, police to support, give free passage to people in supply chain of essential commodities

India has responded to the menace of large-scale transmission of the novel coronavirus and the unprecedented public health catastrophe it may bring by ordering a full national lockdown and various proactive steps are taken by the Central and the various State Govts to control, mitigate and improve the situation in the country.

Amidst the lockdown a major crisis is seen in hospitals as masks, sanitisers, certain medicines, certain medical devices are not reaching on time.

“Avoidable restrictions have been imposed by local police on the mobility of the citizens associated with the supply, distributions and transport of medicines, raw materials, components to make masks, sanitisers and other medical devices to the factories and manufacturing plants which are holding up production adding to shortages though I had assured the Prime Minister that we stand united with him to provide the armaments to fight this war against infection, on behalf of the entire Medical Devices manufacturing community in India during our video conference. The biggest concern is lack of courier services and lack of trucking though Secretary DoCA has issued an order for their operation for essential goods, said Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator, AiMeD.

The pharma / medical device manufacturers are also facing issues as some of the district administrations in various States / UTs have incorrectly given directions to close the manufacturing operations also in the pharmaceutical / medical device industry as part of various measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus and there are reports of collectors unwilling to listen until orders reach them. 

“We on behalf of the Indian Medical Device Industry appeal to local administration and police to recognise that medicines, raw materials, components to make masks, sanitisers and other medical devices like gloves, consumables, disposables, electronics, equipments, instruments, implants and IVD reagents are most essential healthcare delivery products at this critical hour of crisis, so we request them to extend their support and give free passage to the people in the supply chain of essential commodities to reach factories, manufacturing plants and there on the distribution and logistics chain to reach hospitals and clinics etc.” added Nath.

The circular by Ministry of Health & Cabinet Secretary clearly states – “Establishments / Factories engaged in manufacturing and distribution of essential commodities like medicines, vaccines, sanitisers, masks, medical devices, their ancillaries and support services etc. should be exempt from the restrictions of the lockdown”. Anybody and everybody in the supply chain of medical devices should be supported.

In this regard, Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) whose mandate is to ensure availability, accessibility and affordability of medicines and medical devices all across the country and day to day basis has written to the Chief Secretaries of all States / UTs to review the matter and issue directions for treating the above activities as essential services and also directed the authorities concerned to make necessary arrangements for issuance IDs / entry passes so as to facilitate movements of the workers engaged in these essential activities. Further, in cases where inter-state movements of workers is involved, the authorities are asked to sort the matter with their counterpart in the state concerned, so that the pharma / medical devices factories function without any hindrance.

Nath applauded the central Govt under the able leadership of the C Sec (Cabinet Secretary) who is monitoring the situation daily like a war situation room. “Never seen the Govt work so decisively so fast”, he remarked. He informed that the DoCA was quick not only to cap prices of masks and sanitisers and though there were concerns that the caps may be harsh and create further shortages the department has proactively worked to ensure unfettered access to raw materials like alcohol and that also at lower costs to attempt to make the lower MRP workable.

Similarly the DGFT at behest of NPPA Chairman & Secretary Department of Pharma banned the export of masks to address shortages and also banned the export of the raw materials to ensure deflationary costs. The Secretary Textiles has been personally holding regular meetings to ensure availability of material and qualified suppliers to the MoH&FW specifications of PPE kits . The Jt Secy Civil Aviation has assured the Secretary DoP in a meeting  with the domestic carriers and freight handling associations and us to start cargo flights to import vital medical grade raw materials and components from overseas to enable continuity in production. The central government is next focussed on de bottlenecking capacity of ventilators and ramping it up with close coordinated working with the 9-10 Indian manufacturers – indeed Make in India has never been valued as is now and we are enthused with the production linked incentive policy unveiled and thanked the PM for that. 

“The government has thankfully quickly taken some much needed drastic and bold steps to curb unethical behaviour in the market, but lot needs to done by all of us – manufacturers, traders and consumers to address the challenge of avoiding shortage of masks and PPE Kits and other medical devices for the healthcare professionals and of sanitisers to consumers and ensure availability at reasonable prices and quality products to jointly fight Corona Virus. We would not like this to result in creating a black market”, concluded Nath.

AIMEDCOVID-19Department of PharmaceuticalsDGFTMake In Indiamedical devicesmedicinesMinistry of Health & Cabinet SecretaryNPPARajiv Nath
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