To address the oxygen crisis, especially in far-off rural parts of Maharashtra, the state health department has started control rooms in all districts. As cases are increasing in these areas, they often face problems in transporting oxygen when a sudden need arises.
With this step, the state hospitals can now directly contact the officers of their respective districts if they face any shortage of oxygen.
Every day, around 2,000 to 3,000 new patients require oxygen support across the state, with critical ones requiring 40 to 60 litre a minute. Major oxygen generation or oxygen conversion plants are located in Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur and Nagpur belt, leaving remaining districts to struggle with lack of supply.
Dr Archana Patil, director of health, Maharashtra said they were often getting complaints regarding a shortage of oxygen cylinders due to which they held a meeting with all district health officers asking them to procure oxygen cylinders if necessary.
“Last week a meeting was conducted with all the district medical officers about the situation and we have already instructed them to procure dura oxygen cylinders on priority. Meanwhile, we have received the demands for oxygen cylinders from 16 of the districts and handed over the jumbo cylinders to them as per their needs,” she said. Moreover, they also held meetings with the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for the procurement process.
Senior doctors said most of the hospitals in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan have been struggling to meet the oxygen demands. "Only 60 per cent of what is needed is being supplied. Moreover, oxygen cylinders are not being supplied at all in many districts like Pune, Solapur, Satara, Osmanabad, Thane, Kolhapur in Maharashtra where cases are increasing on a daily basis,” said Dr Avinash Bhondwe, President, IMA Maharashtra.
Dr Deepak Baid, president, Association of Medical Consultant said the prices of oxygen cylinders have increased by almost 44 per cent and along with the black marketing are also being done. “The cost of dura oxygen cylinder was Rs 6,250 which has now increased to 9,000, which is a 44 percent rise. Following which we have written to the manufacturer to reduce the price. Moreover, these oxygen cylinders are costing more than actual price if procured in black,” he said.
The Food and Drug Foundation has written to stop the black marketing of oxygen from Maharashtra and the state government has asked for a committee to be in touch with the oxygen suppliers. Moreover, they often face problems in transporting oxygen when sudden needs arrive. “All hospitals have their own standard requirements. So, sometimes when they get additional patients, they face the oxygen crisis. For them, we have also started a control room in our headquarter (Bandra) to avoid false information. The hospital authority can contact us directly for it,” said Vikas Biyani, joint commissioner (drugs), FDA.