Facing flak over its decision to charge private hospitals Rs 20,000 for every unit of plasma ,the Punjab government on Thursday said that donated plasma will be provided free-of-cost by the state to all those in need.
CM Amarinder Singh directed the Health Department to strictly ensure that Covid patients are not charged for plasma therapy and that nobody is allowed to buy or sell plasma, a government statement said Thursday.
The CM intervened soon after the Aam Aadmi Party announced that it would statewide protest on Friday against the sale of plasma separated from donated blood.
It was on Sunday that the Department of Medical Education and Research had first announced that the government would charge Rs 20,000 for plasma, donated by recovered Covid-19 patients. State Health Advisor Dr K K Talwar had defended the move stating it was a cross subsidy and the money taken from private hospitals could be passed on to the poor patients for treatment. He had said that the government had to spend Rs 16,000 to 17,000 for checking every donor for antibodies and later testing the plasma.
After making the announcement to give plasma free-of-cost Thursday, the Chief Minister also appealed to the recovered Covid patients to come forward to save the lives of others. He urged DCs and Health Department officials to motivate such patients to donate plasma. Currently, there are around 10,000 recovered Covid patients in the state, he said, adding that his government’s priority was to save each and every life in Punjab.
During a Covid management review meeting through video link, Amarinder also asked the Health Department to expedite setting up of two new Plasma Banks at Amritsar and Fardikot, to supplement the one already operational in Patiala.
He was informed by Cabinet Minister O P Soni that the approvals for the new banks had already been received and tenders were being floated for procurement of equipment.
Expressing concern over the increasing number of cases in the state, Amarinder also asked Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu to send a viable proposal for earmarking 10 beds in all the district hospitals for treatment and care of mild/minor cases of infection. The Health Minister had earlier proposed such dedicated facility in all the Civil Hospitals of the state.
The Chief Minister also asked the DCs to ensure proper coordination and care in the tertiary facilities for the very sick patients, and also work closely with the dedicated nodal officers appointed in five districts with the highest caseload. These officers have been tasked with ensuring high quality treatment in consultation with experts led by Dr K K Talwar.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan suggested that all the field officers, including DCs and SSPs, should remain at their headquarter towns even at night for the next two months, as this was a critical period for Punjab, with projected spike during this time.
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