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India Fights Back the Oxygen Crisis As It Devises New Mechanism

The government of India is seen dispensing global aid to reinforce confidence in public health and tertiary medical care. India has faced an acute oxygen crisis during its second wave of Covid-19 with the situation going out of hand. The Indian Prime Minister chaired a meeting to evaluate the accessibility, supply, and disposal of oxygen. It was discussed that the supply of oxygen is now more than three times the supply during the peak of the first wave.

During the last 4-6 weeks, the production capacity and delivery of oxygen have increased by three times. With this, the supply and demand situation of oxygen is expected to be managed along with shortages being addressed.

India’s problem was that the oxygen plants were located in faraway places, farther from metro cities. The need for oxygen for medical purposes is around 10% while 90% goes for industry use. Industry and healthcare oxygen is similar, and there is only a 3% purity change. Thus, there was no dearth of oxygen; the main issue was how to bring the oxygen to the places where they were needed. It is very difficult and time-consuming for oxygen to be transported by trucks as well as by train because it takes 7-9 hours. This problem has been solved now by having cryogenic containers, which were purchased by the government and obtained as gifts from other sources.

These could be transported by plane and the Indian air force came forward to transport them to places where it was required.

The other problem was creating oxygen at the sites where they were needed and now that has been addressed. New oxygen plants are being set up closer to or within the hospitals.  Some of these plants have already been set up within the hospitals and made operational within 6-7 hours.

Another strategy that helped was giving oxygen plants to the hospitals so that they can make their own oxygen.

Another concern is the supply of oxygen to the tertiary sectors, villages, and remote areas.

For this, it is important that India have a decentralized system of oxygen management. Every district hospital or corporate hospital of a certain size needs to have an oxygen manufacturing plant.

Accountability is also of prime importance given the way people have tried to gain profit through oxygen and drugs during the past few weeks. There is sufficient oxygen in the system but people are seen hoarding it. Those who can afford have kept cylinders and concentrators in their homes without any need for it. This results in those who actually need it being deprived of it. Thus, India needs to strengthen its accountability and auditing system in order to address this issue.

Additionally, India is also trying to accelerate the vaccination process while ramping up production. Vaccine manufacturers across the country are being approached to ramp up the production of jabs to meet the increasing demand.

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