Medical Oxygen Shortage In India Hits Hospitals Hard

New Delhi: In perhaps the most unprecedented situation, the country is facing a shortage of medical oxygen. It is astounding as with more than six million reported infections, India is now one of the world’s main virus hotspots.

Hospitals in several states are struggling for medical oxygen, reported NDTV.

Why the shortage?

Fathom this. New Delhi, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh with a combined population of nearly 200 million don’t have a single unit manufacturing oxygen. Most of the plants producing medical oxygen are in the eastern and western parts of the country. As a result, large areas of the densely populated north and centre don’t have quick access to the essential medical supply, the report added.

“From 750 tons of oxygen a day in March to 2,800 tons per day now, the demand has gone up phenomenally putting a lot of stress on our supply chain logistics,” Saket Tiku, president of All India Industrial Gases Manufacturer’s Association was quoted as saying by NDTV.

“Manufacturers are dealing with a limited number of mobile cryogenic tankers,”  he added.

Experts surprised

“We had many months to prepare. The hope would have been that this calculation would have been done, because the oxygen was at the very top of the list of things critical to controlling a pandemic,” Ramanan Laxminarayan, Director of the New Delhi and Washington D.C.-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy was quoted as saying by NDTV.


Earlier this month, the health ministry asked states to ensure there were no restrictions on the movement of tankers carrying medical oxygen.

“Hospitals used to have supplies for six days, now they are only able to maintain four days of stock. It creates a panicky situation if your oxygen is about to get over and your stock hasn’t reached you,” Tiku told NDTV.

With each critically-ill hospitalised patient needing up to ten jumbo cylinders a day, hospitals have a daunting task at hand.


Rising prices

Despite a government cap on the cost of cylinders, the price has increased from about Rs 350-400 per cylinder to Rs 650-700 a cylinder.

What is more, there has been a sharp increase in the demand for oxygen since doctors in rural hospitals are sending patients to bigger cities.

Several states including Maharashtra, home to the financial capital Mumbai, have issued advisories to hospitals to use their oxygen supplies with care, NDTV reported.

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