Centre to import 50,000 MTs of medical oxygen to Maharashtra and 11 other high-burden states
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Maharashtra and 11 states are expected to get partial relief in the availability of oxygen amid rising demand from the Covid-19 patients. The Centre has decided to import 50,000 metric tonnes of medical oxygen and conduct mapping of 12 high-burden states for oxygen sources. These states are Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

According to the Union Health Ministry, while the demand in Maharashtra is expected to exceed the available production capacity of the state, states like Madhya Pradesh do not have any production capacity to meet demand. Besides, there is a trend of increasing demand in other oxygen-producing states such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan.

Sources of medical oxygen and their production capacity were mapped to match the requirement of states and an indicative framework has been developed to guide the states on the sources of medical oxygen. Accordingly, 4,880MT, 5,619MT and 6,593MT have been indicated to these 12 states for meeting their projected demand as on April 20, 25 and 30 respectively.

In view of the increasing demand for medical oxygen, the Empowered Group 2 decided to float a tender for the import of 50,000MT of medical oxygen. The Union Health Ministry has been directed to finalise the tender for the same and also explore possible sources for import identified by the missions of ministry of external affairs.

Further, the health ministry will identify new 100 hospitals in far-flung locations for consideration of sanction for installation of pressure swing absorption (PSA) plants. This will enable them to have their own oxygen plants under the PM-CARES Fund. Already, 162 PSA plants sanctioned under PM-Cares are being closely reviewed for early completion, to enhance self-generation of oxygen in hospitals, especially in remote areas.

The Centre has asked the states to make rational use of medical oxygen and ensure there is no wastage. Besides, it has instructed states to set up control rooms to ensure smooth supply of oxygen to the districts as per need, review the requirement of cylinders and tankers.

The health ministry advised all Central ministries on Friday to issue instructions to the hospitals under their control or their PSUs to set up exclusive dedicated hospital wards or separate blocks within the hospitals for Covid Care, as was done last year. This aims to substantially augment the hospital infrastructure for effective clinical management of severely ill Covid patients across the country.

Additionally, these dedicated hospital wards or blocks have to be equipped to provide all supportive and ancillary services, including oxygen beds, ICU beds, ventilators and specialised critical care units (wherever available), laboratory, imaging, kitchen and laundry services along with a dedicated health workforce.

In the letter written to the Central ministries, the Union Health Secretary had iterated that the present situation of the sudden surge in cases across the country called for similar supportive action as was provided last year by all such Central ministries / departments and their PSUs and the hospitals under their control.

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