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Karnataka government ignored experts’ advice to up oxygen supply

Had studied global crisis, suggested oxygen tanks for big hospitals, ramping up of oxygen production

Published: 20th August 2020 04:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th August 2020 09:48 AM   |  A+A-

Basavanagudi MLA Ravi Subramanya inspects the rapid testing centre in Gavipura, Bengaluru I Nagaraja Gadekal

Express News Service

BENGALURU: It appears that the Karnataka government ignored warnings from experts on the need to scale up the oxygen supply system, which was recommended during the initial phase of the pandemic in the state. A letter written in April by the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine’s Karnataka chapter told the government to invest in liquid oxygen tanks, as opposed to oxygen cylinders, in hospitals with more than 150-200 beds. 

They had recommended in March and April that oxygen production capacity be increased by 1.5 to 2 times. Recently, it was the shortage of liquid oxygen that caused 47 Covid-19 patients who were on oxygen support, to be shifted from Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences to three other government hospitals in Bengaluru. 

In the letter dated April 23, Dr Pradeep Rangappa, national vice-president of the Society, wrote to Minister for Medical Education Dr K Sudhakar, saying, “Oxygen availability has been an issue in many western countries handling the pandemic. Preparing uninterrupted oxygen delivery is of paramount importance to tide over this crisis. In normal times, 20% to 25% of beds would be using oxygen continually, now all beds will be using oxygen 24/7.”“Oxygen cylinders cannot handle this load. Liquid oxygen tanks, once filled, can supply oxygen for 4 to 5 days. Foolproof supply chain logistics in place for uninterrupted oxygen supply has to be ensured,” Dr Rangappa wrote.

A suggestion in another letter said the liquid oxygen supply chain has to be thought out and a system has to be in place, if the need arises. All production companies should be apprised about the impending demand, the letter stated. Doubling production of cylinders with quick turnover time has to be discussed in detail, if a surge occurs, the experts recommended.

A member of the society said on condition of anonymity, “They spent crores on fancy ventilators instead of spending on liquid oxygen tanks, which cost Rs 10 lakh-15 lakh per hospital. We informed Additional Chief Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Jawaid Akhtar, ministers Sudhakar and Sriramulu as well as medical education department Principal Secretary TK Anil Kumar of the need early on, looking at the pandemic in Italy, China and other countries.”While one oxygen cylinder has a capacity of 7,000 litres, a liquid oxygen tank can hold 2 lakh litres. Minister Sudhakar was unreachable for comment.

Israel helps B’luru govt hospitals get oxygen concentrators
Bengaluru:
Israel has helped procure 25 oxygen concentrators to be distributed in government hospitals of Bengaluru. The consignment arrived at Karnataka State Drugs Logistics and Warehousing Society on Monday after Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and MASHAV — Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation — allocated a special budget for this. An oxygen concentrator is a device that concentrates oxygen from a gas supply, typically ambient air, by selectively removing nitrogen to supply an oxygen-enriched product gas stream. This is then supplied to oxygen beds in hospitals for critically sick Covid-19 patients. The Consulate General of Israel to South India has partnered with Bangalore Political Action Committee (B-PAC) for this effort. Managing Trustee and CEO of BPAC Revathy Ashok and her team had had assisted in locating local vendors who can supply the necessary units.



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