OXYGEN CRISIS : THE DRAWBACK
As the recent headlines “Shortage of oxygen killed them and not COVID-19 entirely” grab our attention on the sudden note of ongoing oxygen crisis with the hike in patients demanding for Liquid medical oxygen (LMO). Let’s analyse first what LMO means and why our Country is facing oxygen crisis when all the high end resources are tried to be made available collectively.
LIQUID MEDICAL OXYGEN
One of the forms of essential medication LMO is a pure form of oxygen used on patients for their proper treatment of body. Placed in the list of National list of essential medicines (NLEM) and essential medical commodities list of WHO (World health organization) ,LMO tends to treat tissue tension for it’s restoration, anaesthetic techniques, cardiovascular stability by increasing Oxygen availability for the body to fight and respond with consistency.
LMO PRODUCTION CAPACITY IN INDIA
India currently has daily capacity of production of 7,100 Metric tonnes of Oxygen ( Concludes a survey by INDIAN EXPRESS) which includes industrial use demands. However, due to the second wave of the pandemic COVID-19 it’s production has spiked upto 8,900+ metric tonnes with daily sale of 7,000+ metric tonnes of approximate figure. In India by the start of MAY 2021 the figure was prospected to reach 9,000+ MT of domestic production to meet the ends of emergency need of oxygen. Presumably by the mid MAY’21 the oxygen supply would be atleast three times more than the demand.
CAUSE OF CRISIS
Different reasons have been encountered with in the recent times to be blamed for the drawback of concept. Some of them being:
1) SHORTAGE OF TANKER ~ Currently, India has 1,224-1,230 approx LMO tankers with a capacity of 16,732-17,000 MT of LMO ,Which is highly inadequate to meet the demands at any given point of time, having maximum of 200 tankers available in transit to meet the demands of upto 4,000 MT of oxygen.
2) GEOGRAPHICAL REMOTENESS~ Inter-state Lack of transportation quickness and challenges of arrival on time from distant locations, for the reason being most LMO plants establishments on the eastern side of the country having states like Odisha playing a major role in the supply.
3) EXORBITANT COSTS OF CRYOGENIC TANKERS~ These are tankers which store medical oxygen at -180 degrees C, including an inner vessel made of stainless steel, have double-skin vacuum-insulated containers, the cost being more than 50 lakhs each, which seem to be a costly investment for the companies in the long run, for the reason soon as the pandemic will be over these investments will be of no use anymore.
4) BLACKMARKETING~ Abuse of power, sale of oxygen cylinders for personal profit is another drawback for the situations to be under control currently.
5) UNINTENTIONAL WASTAGE~ while the health ministry urged the hospitals to cut the wastage of oxygen primarily, on the other hand the industrial concerns being the possible leakages through the supplying pipelines of oxygen.
Various steps from time to time have been taken by the government and ministries in the recent past to maintain the protocol and introduce the concept of ease in availability.
° TRANSPORTATION – To curb the crisis several steps such as Trains to provide transportation of LMO and oxygen cylinders have been inaugurated.
° PROMOTION OF CO-OPERATIVE FEDERALISM – With the help of Disaster management act, 2005, the ministry of Home affairs ordered free inter-state movements of vehicles carrying oxygen resources.
° REVIVAL OF OXYGEN PLANTS– Several closed plants specifically in East and southern part of country have been ordered to be restored and revived in order to increase the domestic supply of LMO.
° IAF( INDIAN AIR FORCE) ENGAGEMENTS – Several empty oxygen tankers are being airlifted by the IAF to speed up the process of transportation to meet the deadline of production and supply via industrial units.
° OXYGEN ENRICHMENT UNIT (OEU)- With an approximate cost of 35,000 INR , An oxygen enrichment unit is a device, which concentrates the oxygen from the air around by selectively removing nitrogen to supply an oxygen-enriched air ( Source- Electronic times). Helpful in creating a mini ICU even at remote areas, homes itself the efficiency of OEU is being considered rapidly, for the inclusiveness of ground zero action taking facility with least amount of burden shift on other aspects.
The pandemic although have started training us with lessons of how to fill the gaps in healthcare system, transportation, quick action taking mechanism etc ,the disheartening deaths due to lack of facilities, the worsening situations still remind us to come up with ideas to cover the losses and control the casualties that can possibly happen. The recent initiatives of government and private sectors and help from neighbour countries after the second wave of COVID-19 however seem to be thorough with the positive approach. Soon as ,the loop of barriers are traced and removed, the situations can be under control.
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