Four-year strategy aims to respond and mitigate the threat from coronavirus.

New Delhi: The Indian government has proposed a long-term Covid-19 combat strategy called the Stakeholder Engagement Plan (SEP). With US$500 million corpus from the World Bank’s Covid-19 Fast-Track Facility, the four-year, well-crafted strategy aims to respond and mitigate the threat from coronavirus and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness against the deadly Wuhan virus in India.
As per the SEP document, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW), along with other ministries, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) will be in-charge of the stakeholder engagement activities and the overall coordination power also will be vested with the MoH&FW for this purpose. The Covid-19 combat strategy will be based on culture-sensitive tenants and it will promote inclusivity.
“As part of the fast track Covid-19 response programme, the India Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project is a four-year project with USD500 million from the World Bank’s Covid-19 Fast-Track Facility (FTF). The priority areas identified under the project are to prepare the Government of India’s (GOI) response by providing information about the best practice available internationally based on the World Health Organisation’s guidance note on the Covid-19 emergency response,” the SEP document accessed by The Sunday Guardian reads. The purpose of having a long-term plan is necessary to deal with the Wuhan virus (Covid-19), a pandemic that may affect the country’s health system in the long run.
“The proposed India Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project aims to respond and mitigate the Covid-19 threat and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness in the country. The key project indicators include the proportion of laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 responded within 48 hours, the proportion of specimens submitted for SARS-COV-2 laboratory testing confirmed within WHO-stipulated standard time,  and the proportion of population able to identify three key symptoms of Covid-19 and/or seasonal influenza and three personal prevention measures (as assessed by a representative population survey),” the SEP document explains.
A new respiratory infectious disease called Covid-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 spread to India, including 106 other countries in Asia, Europe, North America, Africa, and Oceania. The first Covid-19 case was detected in China’s Wuhan province in December last year and after three months, on 11 March, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic, which has since rapidly evolved.
India’s Covid-19 combat prescribes for dealing with many key components which include emergency Covid-19 response (this aims to slow down and limit as much as possible the spread of Covid-19 in the country); strengthening national and state health systems to support prevention and preparedness (this component will support Government of India to build resilient health systems to provide core public health, prevention, and patient management functions to manage future disease outbreaks); strengthening pandemic research and multi-sector, national institutions and platforms for one health (this seeks to develop core capabilities to deliver the “One Health” approach to monitor, detect and manage infectious disease outbreaks in animals and in humans); community engagement and risk communication (it will address significant negative externalities expected in the event of a widespread Covid-19 outbreak and include comprehensive communication strategies. The primary focus of this component will be on addressing the social distancing measures); implementation management and monitoring and evaluation (this component will support research on Covid-19 by Indian institutions working in collaboration with the Indian Council for Medical Research); contingent emergency response component (CERC) (this component covers the emergency response).
The method that has been adopted for selection of the stakeholders. The SEP document says: “Cooperation and negotiation with the stakeholders throughout the project development phase often requires identification of persons who can act as legitimate representatives of their respective stakeholder groups and for this, the SEP will opt for the best methodology available for this process.”
The stakeholders may be the affected parties (the persons, groups and other entities within the project area of influence that are directly influenced), interested parties (individuals/groups/entities that may not experience direct impacts from the project, but who consider or perceive their interests as being affected by the project and/or who could affect the project and the process of its implementation in some way) and the vulnerable groups (persons who maybe disproportionately impacted or further disadvantaged by the project(s) compared with any other groups due to their vulnerable status), according to the SEP.
The SEP prescribes to take a broader perspective for selection of the right stakeholders for the project.  However, the MoH&FW will work as the coordination head and nodal agency.
Besides the World Bank-funded SEP, India has also drafted its Environmental and Social Commitment Plan (ESCP) as part of the fight against Covid-19 in the country. The task has been undertaken by the MoH&FW.
While the SEP will be funded by the World Bank, the ESCP will get its funds from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. “The Republic of India, which is the recipient, will implement the Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness project (the Project), with the involvement of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC). The International Bank for the Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has agreed to provide financing for the Project,” the ESCP document reads.
This project, too, will be headed by the MoH&FW, and the ICMR and NDC will play the role of nodal agencies. The ESCP’s commitment is to set out the material measures and actions against the virus spread and regular reporting will be carried out under the project. Also, the ESCP allows the recipient to make changes in the project to mitigate the new changes that would occur during the period of time.