VIJAYAWADA: The Centre has instructed the states that are currently the major contributors to the country’s coronavirus caseload, to ensure adequate medical oxygen availability in all healthcare facilities and unrestricted intra/interstate movement of oxygen cylinders. The instruction came after some states, including Andhra Pradesh, informed the Centre that certain states were not cooperating in ensuring the uninterrupted supply of liquid oxygen.
Commissioner for health and family welfare Katamneni Bhaskar told TNIE: “Hospitals everywhere have a long-term agreement/contract with suppliers, who procure medical oxygen either directly from manufacturers or logistics companies. In some districts, which are supplied oxygen from manufacturers from other states, we are facing problems due to restrictions imposed by neighbouring state governments. This is why the issue was brought to the notice of the Centre.”
Stating that the suppliers are generally referred to as fillers, Bhaskar said some fillers, all of whom are legally bound to maintain a certain quantity of medical oxygen at each of their facility, as mentioned in the contract, and ensure that the same is available to hospitals round-the-clock, refused to refill the tanks citing lack of supply from the manufacturers due to the restrictions.
“There are only a few manufacturers. We faced this problem especially in Rayalseema, which gets its share of medical oxygen from JSW Steel Plant in Bellary, Karnataka. A few days ago, there were restrictions on movement of oxygen transport for a period of four to five days. However, after we brought the issue to the notice of the Centre and Karnataka government, we found out that the restrictions were imposed by some districts, including Bellary. A similar situation was observed in some parts of AP that are supplied oxygen by National Oxygen, a company located in Chennai. In this case, the manufacturer said the state government had instructed it to supply oxygen only within Tamil Nadu and to Puducherry,” the commissioner observed, adding 40 metric tonne and 80 MT of oxygen are being brought every day from Chennai and Bellary, respectively.
“We provide oxygen to Telangana, but the quantity varies each day.” With respect to its current availability in Andhra Pradesh, he said the state has stored excess of it. Since the contracts allow a large of quantity of supply from other states and as AP has three manufacturers of its own, the government plans to increase the stored quantity given that the caseload is rising rapidly, he noted.
“Our per day consumption is 220 to 300 MT, while our storage capacity is 453 MT. This means that we keep one-and-a-half days of oxygen in excess. Tanks for storing another 100 MT are under construction. When they are ready in another 10 to 15 days, the state can store 2.2 times more medical oxygen than its daily requirement,” he said. At present, Andhra Pradesh has over 22,000 oxygen-supported beds, of which 8,320 are occupied.
Storage capacity to be increased
The health and family welfare commissioner said tanks to store an additional 100 MT of medical oxygen were under construction. “When they are ready in another 10 to 15 days, the state can store 2.2 times more medical oxygen than its daily requirement,” he said. At present, Andhra Pradesh has over 22,000 oxygen-supported beds, of which 8,320 are occupied