The demand for medical oxygen in the country peaked to nearly 9,000 MT in the second Covid wave as compared to the peak requirement of 3,095 MT during the first wave, Lok Sabha was informed on Friday.
To a question on shortage of medical oxygen in the country during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Union Minister Bharati Pravin Pawar said supply of medical oxygen to hospitals is determined by contractual arrangements between the hospital concerned and the supplier. “However, due to an unprecedented surge in demand of medical oxygen across the country during the second wave of COVID-19 — the demand in the country peaked to nearly 9,000 MT (metric tonnes) as compared to the peak requirement of 3,095 MT during the first wave,” she said in a written reply. It was in this context that the central government stepped in and took all possible measures to increase production and to facilitate equitable distribution to states, the minister of state for health said.
The daily liquid medical oxygen (LMO) production, which was about 5,700 MT a day in August last year, was increased to a high of 9,690 MT as on May 13, Pawar said. On May 28, the central government was able to allocate 10,250 MT to states, the minister said.
She said that as an urgent measure, a total of 1,385 MT of LMO in several consignments was imported from the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Singapore, among others, and was made available to states and union territories (UTs), Pawar said.
Oxygen Express services of the Indian Railways delivered 35,500 MT of LMO, as on June 30, while the Indian Air Force conducted 1,630 domestic sorties and 229 international sorties to airlift tankers, the minister said. Besides, 1,222 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen generation plants with capacity of 1771.76 MT have been sanctioned, she said. Out of these, as on July 20, 245 plants have been commissioned. Apart from this, 351 PSA plants are being installed by different ministries in different public health facilities, Pawar said. The National Medical Commission has amended regulations to make a PSA plant compulsory for every medical college. States have also been asked to install oxygen generation plants in all requisite public health facilities and also facilitate their installation in private health facilities, she said. Pawar said according to data uploaded by states on the portal concerned, states are setting up 1023 PSA plants with their own funds. She said that as of July 15, 1,244 LMO tankers are available in the country. Out of which, 225 tankers were added after March 2020, the minister said.
During 2019-20, Rs 1113.21 crore was released to states and UTs under the National Health Mission towards management and containment of COVID-19 pandemic, according to the reply. In addition, the COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness package of Rs 15,000 crore was approved in April last year. Under this package, so far Rs 13,719.22 crore has been spent. She said that Rs 8,147.29 crore have been released to states and UTs and supply of essential materials — to the tune of Rs 3,389.7 crore — such as PPEs, N95 masks, ventilators, etc has been made to states and UTs. The minister said that an additional package India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package: Phase II of Rs. 23,123 crore has been approved by the government in July to strengthen district and sub-district capacity for an effective and rapid response to the pandemic.
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