Oxygen preparedness

States must get their act together, fast

Oxygen preparedness

THE message to the public at large needs reiteration on a daily basis as the Covid-19 cases mount across the country: let’s not panic, but let’s also exercise utmost caution. - File photo

THE message to the public at large needs reiteration on a daily basis as the Covid-19 cases mount across the country: let’s not panic, but let’s also exercise utmost caution. As important is the nudge to the states to ensure that the oxygen equipment at all the health facilities is tested and kept in a functional state. The catastrophic scenes witnessed during the second wave had exposed the glaring gaps in the ability of the public and private health infrastructure to provide emergency services that could save lives. As the need for medical oxygen ballooned severely and supply fell way short, much of the damage had already been done before the crisis control measures could help in taking a grip on the situation.

It was to avoid a repeat that the Haryana government had in May last year made it mandatory for all hospitals with 50-plus beds to set up oxygen plants within six months. With the third wave baring its fangs, the state Health Minister has expressed confidence of being prepared to tackle any eventuality. As part of the stocktaking, tough action is likely to be initiated against at least 17 private hospitals in Rohtak, Jhajjar and Mahendragarh districts which are yet to establish oxygen plants on their premises citing issues of funds and space. Haryana’s strict approach needs to be emulated.

A vital part of the Centre’s policy push after last year’s fiasco has been ramping up the production and distribution of medical oxygen, while ensuring that health facilities have their own captive oxygen generation plants and storage tanks. Another key component is the training of operators. The focus at present has to be on the preparedness status of the entire spectrum of oxygen equipment, as also mock drills to ensure that the oxygen flow adheres to purity and there are no leakages. Any non-compliance or misrepresentation needs swift redressal. Covid-19 is a continuing emergency, there can be no room for laxity.

Tribune Shorts


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