The National Health Authority (NHA), the apex body implementing the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme, on Friday announced its partnership with Uber India to provide safe, reliable and efficient transportation for India’s frontline healthcare workers engaged in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Uber will initially facilitate the provision of 150 cars for free to support medical facilities in New Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Prayagraj and Patna through its recently-launched UberMedic service, the NHA said in a statement.

All UberMedic cars supplied to NHA will be equipped with roof-to-floor plastic sheeting enclosing the driver’s seat, thereby acting as a protective barrier between the rider and the driver.

“The pilot scheme meets the Prime Minister’s goal of practicing social distancing even within the confines of an UberMedic car,” the NHA statement said.

Additionally, each UberMedic car will be disinfected after every ride to ensure the highest possible safety and hygiene standards in line with government guidelines.

Dr Indu Bhushan, CEO, Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) and NHA, said, “The partnership with Uber in this hour of need is a much-needed initiative to extend necessary support to the healthcare workers who are leading this fight against COVID-19.

“Limited mobility options had made it difficult for frontline workers to travel to their workplaces. This initiative will further strengthen India’s response to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

Pradeep Parameswaran, president, Uber India and South Asia, said, “Uber is proud to partner with the National Health Authority to offer free UberMedic rides to transport frontline healthcare workers in specific locations for helping to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“All drivers will be specially trained in safety procedures and provided with personal protective equipment including masks, sanitisers and disinfectants to sanitise UberMedic cars after each ride. Uber salutes all our frontline healthcare workers and will continue supporting them and the government in the days and weeks ahead.”

AB-PMJAY is the flagship scheme of the government that provides a cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary-care hospitalisation, benefitting over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families (about 53 crore beneficiaries).

*Press Trust Of India via India Today*