Karnataka: Oxygen distribution needs robust system | Bengaluru News – Times of India


The government estimated the oxygen requirement from May 1 to be around 1,471 tonnes per day (TPD) and Yeddyurappa conveyed this to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 23 (Representative image)

BENGALURU: The deaths of Covid-19 patients in Chamarajanagar and Kalaburagi hospitals in less than 24 hours due to non-availability of medical oxygen have exposed the lack of a sturdy distribution mechanism as well as official bungling.
Despite several warnings by health experts, the government failed to assess the shortage of oxygen and take remedial steps. The response brings to mind a Kannada proverb: digging a well for water when people are dying of thirst.
It’s been more than two weeks since hospitals and health experts have repeatedly highlighted scarcity of oxygen and asked the government to ramp up facilities, especially in districts, where cases are rising. Social media is full of messages of people begging for oxygen cylinders to save their dear ones.
However, chief minister BS Yediyurappa and health minister K Sudhakar are reeling out statistics to highlight availability of oxygen. They have been sharing congratulatory messages hailing Union minister Sadananda Gowda for heeding the state’s demands for oxygen and anti-viral drugs.
“The lack of storage facilities at private hospitals is a reason for shortage of oxygen. Otherwise, the state has sufficient supply. The government is ready to supply whatever quantity of oxygen is required,” Sudhakar tweeted last week.
The government estimated the oxygen requirement from May 1 to be around 1,471 tonnes per day (TPD) and Yeddyurappa conveyed this to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 23. According to health department officials, the state is getting around 1,000 tonnes, which includes 865 tonnes allocated by the Centre from April 30, and 100-150 tonnes from small producers. This leaves the state with a shortage of 400-500 tonnes.
Officials said the lack of a mechanism to handle oxygen supply and no strategy to make the best use of available oxygen are only adding to the problem.
“The government must evolve a system where available oxygen can be used better and even shared by districts in an emergency. Now, there are multiple contact points and every district is scrambling to get the maximum supply,” said a doctor of a noted hospital.
Ameen-e- Mudassar, a frontline Covid warrior helping patients get oxygen, said the government must focus on procuring oxygen concentrators immediately. “This will lessen the burden on hospitals. The government must appoint a team of officials to look into oxygen demand and supply,’’ he added.
“The lack of planning and transparency in handling the Covid situation is the major cause of deaths,” alleged former minister R Ramalinga Reddy.

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Sagar Biswas

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