Drawing lessons from the pandemic-induced crisis of medical oxygen in the country, the government on Wednesday launched a programme to train healthcare workers on its efficient management to ensure its rational use and avoid any wastage.
Launching the National Oxygen Stewardship Programme at the AIIMS here, Union Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said the country witnessed an increased demand for medical oxygen during the COVID-19 pandemic, hence its rational use has become mandatory and need of the hour.
The initiative aims to empower all healthcare workers engaged in oxygen management and administration with the essential knowledge and skills to ensure its rational utilisation and avoid any wastage, especially in resource constraint settings, according to a Health Ministry statement.
It envisages to identify and train at least one “oxygen steward” in each district across the country. These trained professionals would be responsible for leading the training on oxygen therapy and management in their respective districts and also support audit of oxygen delivery and preparedness for a surge scenario, the statement said.
“Oxygen is life saving and critically important in the treatment of several illnesses, not just COVID-19. The country witnessed an increased oxygen demand during the pandemic. Hence, the rational use of oxygen has become mandatory and need of the hour,” Pawar said.
Detailing the government’s efforts in ensuring increased oxygen availability, the minister noted that it has sanctioned more than 1,500 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen generation plants, out of which 1,463 have been commissioned, including 1,225 units installed using the PMCARES Fund in every district of the country.
The states have also been asked to install PSA plants in public health facilities and facilitate installation of PSA plants in private health facilities, she added.
Commenting on the new programme, Pawar said, “It will enhance the skills of our healthcare workers in oxygen therapy with necessary focus on essential knowledge and skills.” It will also train participants to avoid wastage or overuse of oxygen in resource constraint settings.
Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health) of NITI Aayog, underscored that resource constraint is faced by all countries but it is important that the available resources are used prudently. Towards this effort, he lauded this initiative for its focus on ensuring efficiency in oxygen administration.
He also highlighted the recently launched ‘Oxycare’ dashboard as another important initiative towards oxygen administration, the statement said.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan noted that the COVID-19 pandemic not only accelerated the demand for medical oxygen but also the need for its timely delivery.
He highlighted that while the central government has supported the states in setting up and strengthening oxygen production and delivery mechanisms, variable gaps were observed in the training of professionals involved in the administration of oxygen, the statement stated. He emphasized that this workshop aims to “repurpose, re-orient and upskill the existing manpower” in order to make sure that any untoward incident arising due to the pandemic gets managed professionally without any undue stress on the system.