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Oxygen supply low in hospitals

24 April 2021
Oxygen supply low in hospitals

A woman suffering from Covid-19 is taken to the DNCC Covid-19 Dedicated Hospital with oxygen support at Mohakhali in the capital for treatment on Friday.

Special Correspondent  :
Oxygen has become one of the most precious commodities in the battle against the coronavirus, as the gas is necessary for the hospitals to keep critical Covid patients alive.
It was reported that hospitals across the country are short of oxygen amid the surge in Covid patients. Several hospitals in the capital have had to refuse admitting patients due to shortage of oxygen.
Sources said there is a mismatch between the demand and supply of medical oxygen. The daily demand for medical oxygen at hospitals has gone up to 180 tonnes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The demand for medical grade oxygen was hovering between 118 tonnes and 120 tonnes during the pre-Covid situation.
 "We are exploring all avenues to augment oxygen supply to hospitals. We hope no big crisis will arise in supplying medical oxygen," said Prof Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, Director General (DG) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Currently, ninety percent of the supply
 comes from Linde Bangladesh Ltd, a multinational company, and Spectra Oxygen Ltd and Islam Oxygen Ltd supply the rest.
Linde and Spectra are supplying 80 tonnes and 38 tonnes of oxygen (per day) respectively to the hospitals.
"Two local companies are supplying major quantity of medical oxygen to hospitals. Besides, tank-filled liquid oxygen is being imported from India. But it can be stopped anytime as India has already plunged into oxygen crisis amid record surge in Covid cases. If India bans export of oxygen to Bangladesh, then local hospitals will face supply shortage of the gas," said Dr Farid Hossain Miah, Director (Hospitals and Clinics) of the DGHS.
To mitigate the supply deficit, he said, "We have already talked to three local companies to get supply of medical oxygen though their production capacity is not up to the mark."
When asked, Farid said, "In case of any emergency situation, we will look for proper distribution of oxygen to hospitals."
In the last one week, 500 tonnes of liquid oxygen has been imported from India through Benapole Land Port. The import price was $165 dollar per ton, accordong to media report.
"Oxygen is an important pre-requisite for managing moderate and severe cases of Covid. The authorities should equip Covid hospitals with pressure swing absorption (PSA) plants, which can manufacture their own oxygen," said public health expert Prof Dr Muzherul Huq.
He observed that the second wave of the pandemic had hit Bangladesh badly, putting immense pressure on the country's health infrastructure. It has also triggered an unprecedented demand for medical oxygen and ICU beds.    
Many cases were reported that patients died because they could not get oxygen in time.
"We admitted our maternal uncle to the ICU unit of the capital's New Life Hospital with breathing problem on April 1 following his Covid infection. His oxygen saturation level was greeting dangerously low on the following day. He required uninterrupted and high flow oxygen supply as his lung was badly infected by the virus. But he had to die due to lack of oxygen," Ptritilota Bose, a resident of the capital's Sutrapur area told The New Nation.
She said, "We cried for an oxygen cylinder but the hospital authority did not arranged. Even we sought help from '999'. My uncle expired at 11.30pm on April 3. He could have been saved if there was adequate oxygen supply."
Commenting on current pandemic situation, a public health expert seeking anonymity said, the government allowed the situation to become so dire. Experts warned of a new wave though the pandemic was under control in February. But the lean period was not used to augment healthcare facilities. And now people are paying heavy price of it.

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