ISLAMABAD: The National Disas­ter Risk Management Fund (NDRMF) on Wednesday approved Rs7.89 billion for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to supplement the government’s efforts for prevention and spread of Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

In the wake of declaration of Coro­n­a­virus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) a pandemic by the World Health Organi­sation, the federal government decla­red a National Health Emergency of Public Concern on March 13.

As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus is growing on a daily basis in the country, the situation warranted the top-level preparedness and preemptive measures to control the deadly disease in the country.

The NDRMF approved the project submitted to it by the NDMA with the assistance of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.

Project is initially meant for six months

Based on the country’s three mon­ths’ requirements of health products, the project is initially meant for six months’ duration with the sole objective of effectively responding to and minimising the impact of coronavirus pandemic through surveillance strengthening, case management, infection prevention and protection of medical and paramedical staff through provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other materials needed for combating Covid-19.

The NDRMF completed all its procedural steps related to project review and approval in less than 24 hours and confirmed its grant financing for the project to the NDMA by signing a tripartite agreement with the NDMA and the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination on Wednesday.

Taking self-initiative on the directive of its board, the NDRMF engaged with the NDMA and the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination and help them figured out the immediate requirements of health equipment and productions, including but not limited to testing kits, viral RNA extraction kits, mobile X-ray machines, clinical ICU ventilators, syringe pumps, N-95 masks, Tyvek suits (protection suits for health care staff), thermal guns and scanners, which the country would be needing under 0-3 months’ caseload through various inter-ministerial consultative dialogues.

The board also simplified the NDRMF’s procedures and prescribed formats for easing out proponents to submit brief project proposals with less efforts to enable them to achieve the grant financing in the shortest possible time and thus succeed in taking time-bound preventive measures and actions.

Of the financial commitment pursuant to the directives of the board, the NDRMF has already deposited Rs3.20 billion in the Consolidated (Non-Food) Account No 1 of the government throu­­gh the Federal Treasury Office from the profits accrued from its Endow­ment Fund. The rest of the amount of the grant will shortly be made available from the Asian Development Bank’s loan for the NDRMF.

Furthermore, as per directives of the National Security Council, the NDMA, being the lead agency for coordinating the Covid-19 response across the country, will be responsible for the overall management of the project, including procurement, quality assurance, inventory and supply chain management, reporting, oversight, monitoring and financial and audit arrangements. To ensure technical and other requirements, it would work in close coordination with the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination and other stakeholders.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2020