Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope clears the air after Oxygen supply storm
BL Soni

Amid strong protests by doctors on the Maharashtra government directive restricting the use of medical Oxygen for Covid-19 patients, the Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope has clarified that the government does not intend to impose any restrictions. As per the government circular, the hospitals were asked to use medical Oxygen of 7 litres per minute for the Oxygen beds and 12 litres per minute for the ICU. The doctors argued that such curbs are unwarranted and the government should immediately withdraw it especially when the Covid-19 cases are rising fast in the state.

The trigger for the government’s circular was shortage of medical Oxygen reported in various parts of Maharashtra. Thereafter, the state government has by exercising powers under the Infectious Diseases Control Act and the Disaster Management Act made mandatory for medical Oxygen producers to supply 80% Oxygen to the health sector and 20% to industry.

Tope in a tweet said, "Given the growing prevalence of Covid-19 in the state, the demand for medical Oxygen is increasing. The state government is urging all medical practitioners to use medical Oxygen judiciously. The state government is working to increase the production of medical Oxygen, therefore, all medical professionals working in the public and private sectors are urged to avoid wastage of medical Oxygen. I am confident that all medical professionals will respond positively to this call. "

State Task Force chief Dr Sanjay Oak and member Dr Shashank Joshi conveyed their strong objections saying that it is the doctor’s prerogative to give more or less Oxygen to Covid-19 patients.

The Indian Medical Association strongly condemned the “unscientific” restrictions of using medical Oxygen at 7 litres per minute for the Oxygen beds and 12 litres per minute for the ICU. ‘’It’s an attempt without a thought to cover up bad governance of supply of Oxygen by unprofessional and unethical notification. The curb on Oxygen use is unprincipled and an unwarranted questioning on clinical acumen of doctors,’’ said the IMA (Maharashtra) President Dr Avinash Bhondwe.

He said that the Association has been requesting the government to improve the Oxygen supply and curb the rising prices of Oxygen cylinders which are sold at an exorbitant rate to the hospitals by the suppliers. ‘’We also protest to accuse private doctors in such derogatory ways saying there was overuse of Oxygen in Maharashtra by them. Instead of blaming the private doctors, it will be better if the government runs all the private hospitals on its own,’’ he noted.

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