Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has urged the States and Union Territories (UTs) to ensure that no restriction is imposed on the movement of medical oxygen from one State to another. It may be noted that oxygen support is one of the key clinical management in the treatment of COVID-19 patients across India. According to the Union Health Ministry, so far, less than 3.7 per cent of active patients are on oxygen support in the country.
Bhushan’s decision come when the Health Ministry got to know that a few States are trying to curb the free inter-State movement of oxygen supply by exercising provisions under various Acts and also mandating the manufacturers and suppliers located in the State to restrict their oxygen supplies to only the hospitals of the State. In a letter written to the States and UTs, Bhushan has emphasised the availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19.
The Health Secretary has strongly reinforced that it is the responsibility of every State to ensure that every hospitalised COVID patient receives oxygen. “The Health Ministry has reiterated the critical importance of oxygen in hospitals for the management of critical COVID patients. Medical oxygen constitutes an essential public health commodity. Any impediment in the supplies of medical oxygen in the country may critically impact the management of patients suffering from COVID-19 disease in other parts of the country,” said a government statement.
Moreover, some of the major oxygen manufacturers and suppliers already have existing supply agreements with hospitals in various states with a legal obligation to fulfil such agreements, they said.
According to the Health Ministry, the COVID management strategy is based on a standard of care treatment guidelines. These guidelines have ensured a uniform and standardised quality of medical care in all the COVID facilities, including hospitals. “For moderate and severe cases, adequate oxygen support, appropriate and timely administration of anti-coagulants and widely available and inexpensive corticosteroids, in accordance with the protocol, can be considered to be the mainstay of COVID-19 therapy,” the Health Ministry said.
The Health Ministry further informed that adequate supply of oxygen throughout the country has enabled effective clinical care of the hospitalised moderate and severe cases, in conjunction with other measures. The adopted host of strategies have actively resulted in the rising recovery rate and steadily declining Case Fatality Rate (CFR) at 1.67 per cent. To date, 35,42,663 people have recovered from coronavirus disease. The country has reported 4.56 million cases so far. (ANI)