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Why in news?

Were matters to deteriorate, India had enough infrastructure to tide over the crisis said the Health Minister at an online conference.

The Union government on 10th April asserted that India had “sufficient buffer” of the much in demand drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ).

A Well-Equipped India

  • India had multiple strategies in place to contain the pandemic. For more than 15 cases in a district, we have a ‘large outbreak’ strategy and for less than 15, a cluster containment strategy.
  • Until now, India had largely relied on importing Personal Protective Equipment for health care workers. However, with rising local demand and shortages, the government had, via the Ministry of Textiles, authorised 39 manufacturers to make such equipment locally.
  • From next week, 10 lakh PPEs are expected, as well as 48,000 additional ventilators, hence, India is unlikely to face an “unmanageable crisis”.

In demand Hydroxychloroquine

  • Export of the drug to 13 countries including U.S., Germany, Canada, Brazil, Bahrain, Seychelles, Mauritius and the SAARC neighbouring countries had begun in India. Although the drug is ONLY BELIEVED but not clinically proven yet to treat COVID-19, it is in high demand.
  • A lot of requests of HCQ are already there and taking into view the domestic stock and requirement and keeping sufficient buffer, a decision was taken by the Group of Ministers to release some of the surplus medicine for export purposes.
  • The government’s move won it many expressions of gratitude from countries that received clearances for their medical supplies, which had been held up for weeks after the Directorate General of Foreign Trade banned them for export.
  • Exports of HCQ and paracetamol were banned in the first week of April but the government overturned the ban on April 6, allowing the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Department of Pharmaceuticals to assess requests from various countries and clear their supply.
  • Twenty-four other drugs that were put on a restricted list in March have been cleared for export as well.

Why is HCQ being Exported?

MEA officials said exports were being cleared for more than a dozen countries in three categories:

  1. Humanitarian aid,
  2. Aid to neighbouring SAARC countries,
  3. Commercial orders to countries such as the U.S. and Brazil, who have pushed the most for the release of HCQ orders for which their companies had made advance payments.
November 2023