A National Task Force (NTF) of top medical experts, set up by the Supreme Court, has recommended that the country should have strategic reserves of oxygen for two-three weeks of consumption on the lines of the arrangements made for petroleum products.
Formed to devise a methodology for allocation of oxygen to States and Union Territories during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, it also proposed a formula for determining the oxygen needs for the country by taking into account all levels of care. As much as 1.5 MT of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) required for a 100-bed hospital with 25% ICU beds is a formulation that may be examined, it said.
The 12-member NTF also said that all hospitals should have a buffer capacity for emergencies and they should set up oxygen monitoring committees of senior staff.
The court had set up the NTF on May 6 to formulate a methodology for allocation of oxygen for saving lives of Covid-19 patients and to facilitate a public health response to the pandemic.
"We should have strategic reserves of oxygen for the country to cover 2-3 weeks' consumption, similar to the arrangement made for petroleum products. Similarly, all hospitals should have a buffer capacity for Emergencies,” the NTF said in its 163-page report.
With regard to augmenting the supplies of liquid medical oxygen or LMO, based on present and projected demands during the pandemic, the panel said that about 20 % buffer capacity of the states' requirement should be created for allocation over and above baseline demand for allocation to States with rising cases of Covid-19.
“Efforts are to be made to further scale up LMO production in preparation of the next pandemic. There is an urgent need to increase production of LMO from about five to eight % of gaseous industrial oxygen. Government should support and subsidise concerned industries," it said.
In an emergency, states may actively explore setting up some field/make-shift hospitals in proximity of industrial oxygen production units which can supply piped oxygen with necessary modifications and strict quality control and technology to be put in place to convert nitrogen plants to oxygen-producing plants in case of an emergency situation.
It said that focus should also be placed on cylinders, gaseous oxygen and arrangement of cylinder fillers and carbon-dioxide cylinders from beverage industries may also be converted to oxygen cylinders. The panel said that besides cylinders and LMO, the PSA plants must be encouraged, based on actual assessment as the PSA plants have the capability to manage a 100 bedded hospital and fill cylinders for ambulances and PHC/CHC as well.
“Make oxygen generation units (PSA) compulsory for all hospitals, including for medical colleges and district hospitals. All district hospitals should have PSA plants with compressors so that they can manage their own load as well as fill cylinders for CHC/ PHC/ Ambulances,” it said.
For rural areas, the panel said that oxygen supply should be supported with new strategies including the need to shift PSA plants towards vulnerable areas with cylinder turnaround time also needs to be efficient.
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