Noting the “significant surge” in COVID-19 cases in the country, the Centre on Wednesday wrote to all states and UTs urging them to direct departments concerned to ensure adequate buffer stock of medical oxygen for at least 48 hours and reinvigorate oxygen control rooms. The Union Health Ministry said the emerging scenario calls for immediate measures by states and UTs to ensure optimal availability of medical oxygen at all health facilities. In a letter to states and UTs, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that private health facilities providing oxygen therapy services may be assessed and their medical oxygen infrastructure capacities need to be explored. A possible strategy and mechanism to leverage the private sector in times of peak of demand can be explored, he advised. Bhushan outlined that LMO tanks at the health facilities should be sufficiently filled and uninterrupted supply chain for their refilling should be ensured.
Stating that health facilities across the country have been strengthened with PSA plants, he stressed that it is important to ensure that these PSA plants are kept fully functional. “All steps should be taken for the proper upkeep and maintenance of such plants,” Bhushan said.
“All health facilities providing in-patient care and oxygen therapy should have buffer stock of medical oxygen sufficient for at least 48 hrs,” he said.
Bhushan said all the health facilities should have adequate inventory of oxygen cylinders along with back-up stocks and robust refilling systems. It should also be ensured that these cylinders are filled and kept ready.
“All districts should ensure that oxygen concentrators supplied to them are fully functional. Their proper up keep and maintenance need to be ensured, ” he said.
All higher-level health facilities should have life support equipment including ventilators, BiPAP, SpO2 systems and associated consumables in sufficient numbers to respond to the emerging needs.
All infection prevention protocols should be adopted while using the oxygen delivery devices and equipment at all the health facilities, he said. Bhushan asked states and UTs to ensure optimal use of all oxygen delivery equipment and devices, and deployment of adequately trained HR at all facilities. As advised, training of facility wise oxygen stewards should be completed within the next few days.
The Health Ministry along with Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship has organised 10 hours training for operators of PSA plants for day-to-day operation, 40 hours training of Master Trainers and 180 hours training of trouble shooting of PSA to a significant number of persons in all States.
The oxygen control rooms should be reinvigorated at state and UT level for prompt resolutions of oxygen related issues and challenges, Bhushan stated. All the states have been asked to ensure on boarding of all healthcare facilities utilising oxygen to ODAS digital platform, directly or through State API’s, the letter stated.