After the healthcare infrastructure was overwhelmed by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, the government is in talks with the private sector to set up hospitals across the country. Sources revealed this would be achieved through corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds.
The Centre, in late April, had said that spending funds on setting up makeshift COVID-19 hospitals and temporary care facilities can be considered as an eligible CSR activity. Reports highlight that the government is looking for increased involvement of corporates in India to tackle the second COVID wave, which has led to cases reaching record levels.
The Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal discussed this last week at a meeting with industry captains. It is regarded as part of a strategy to boost demand for cement and steel, and also clear the large inventory with builders. The suggestion to set up hospitals, according to TOI, came from some of the industrial houses, which proposed to set up facility in a cluster around their plants to meet requirements of their workers as well as people living in neighboring districts. A number of companies are also open to the suggestion after the ministry of corporate affairs tweaked the rules recently.
Moreover, the government would be drafting a policy paper on the issue. This would also be discussed with the companies, and can form a template for building hospitals on a large scale over the next couple of years. And once the plan is in place, companies can implement the strategy over the next two years or so, creating capacity to meet future requirements. Furthermore, the government believes that the private sector has played a critical role during the second wave in arranging oxygen, medicines, hospital beds and other supplies for patients and aided the Centre and the states in meeting the unprecedented challenge.