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Modi govt urges states to conduct mock drills, ensure full functionality of oxygen equipment

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked to ensure that the gap between equipment and systems delivered to the districts & installed at healthcare facilities is reduced to zero

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New Delhi: Uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen in sufficient quantity is of critical importance to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre said on Wednesday, urging states and UTs to conduct mock drills to ensure full functionality of all oxygen equipment.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan addressed a meeting with states and Union territories to review their status and preparedness regarding medical oxygen devices and systems (PSA plants, LMO plants, oxygen concentrators, medical gas pipeline system) through a video conference, a Health Ministry statement said.

The states and UTs were informed that the Union government has assisted them through availability of equipment, technical and financial support for PSA plants, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, liquid medical oxygen (LMO) plants and medical gas pipeline systems (MGPS), and they were urged to review and monitor the status of these on a daily basis to ensure that the gap between equipment and systems delivered to the districts and installed at healthcare facilities is reduced to zero.

They were also strongly urged to schedule and conduct mock drills of all installed and commissioned PSA plants to ensure that they are in fully operational status, so that the oxygen with the required quantity, pressure and purity reaches the intended patients at their bedside. These drills are to be completed by the end of December, the statement said.

“Medical oxygen is an essential public health commodity and its uninterrupted supply in sufficient quantity is of critical importance to tackle the pandemic,” Bhushan said.

While equipment and systems have been sanctioned and delivered, in many states these have not been sent to the district healthcare facilities and when delivered, some have still not been made functional, the secretary pointed out.

State nodal officers were requested to streamline coordination with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), HLL Infra Tech Services Limited (HITES) and Central Medical Services Society (CMSS) etc for resolution of electricity-related and site- related issues for ensuring quick operationalisation of the entire medical oxygen supply infrastructure supplied to them, the statement said.

As on date, a total of 3,236 PSA plants have been installed in the country from various sources with a total commissioned oxygen capacity of 3,783 MT. Moreover, 1,14,000 oxygen concentrators are being provided to states under PM-CARES (1 lakh) and ECRP-II (14,000), it said.

It was also pointed out to the states that ECRP-II funds have been sanctioned to them for installation of 958 LMO storage tanks and medical gas pipeline systems in 1,374 hospitals.

The states were advised to utilise this opportunity to enhance domestic oxygen production capacity and ensure the completion, installation and commissioning of medical gas pipelines in government hospitals expeditiously, the statement said.

The report to this effect is to be submitted to the Union Health Ministry through designated portals for live tracking and monitoring of the functional status of these equipment. The states were also requested to complete the pending oxygen audit reports and submit this through the designated portal by the end of December.

The Union Health Ministry is conducting comprehensive training programmes to build and enhance capacity of technicians and clinicians for operation and maintenance of the PSA plants and other medical oxygen related infrastructure, the statement said.

The states that are yet to complete the scheduled training programmes have ben urged to expedite them and complete the pending ones by December end, in coordination with the district skill development councils, it stated.

Also read: The oxygen story exposes how India breathed too easy between the two Covid waves


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