New Delhi: A Parliamentary Standing Committee has requested the Union Health Ministry to jointly count the deaths due to lack of oxygen during the Covid-19 pandemic with the state governments.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health submitted its 137th report in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. The report said, ‘The increase in the number of Covid-19 cases has created pressure on the health infrastructure. There were many reports in the media about families of many Covid patients waiting in queues for oxygen cylinders, begging for cylinders, hospitals having short supply of oxygen.
In its 123rd report, the Standing Committee had warned the government that shortage of oxygen in hospitals could lead to shortage of oxygen supply to hospitals. We are disappointed with the assurance language given by the Ministry of Health in 2020 that we are self-sufficient in supplying oxygen and oxygen cylinders to hospitals. That empty plagiarism was starkly exposed during the second wave of Covid-19.
While the government has failed to manage the supply of oxygen between states, the skyrocketing demand for oxygen has now led to an unexpected medical crisis.
Poor management of medical logistics and failure of the health system to respond quickly to problems clearly revealed the government’s failure during the second wave. Poor monitoring of oxygen supply, its production, oxygenated beds, requirements of ventilators further worsened the situation at that time.
Surprisingly, when the central government asked states and union territories to report on Covid deaths due to lack of oxygen, 20 states responded that there were no deaths due to lack of oxygen.
The statement by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that the Covid deaths were not due to lack of oxygen has left the Standing Committee in disarray. We take into account media reports that Covid deaths have occurred due to lack of oxygen in hospitals. “The government’s disregard for the truth cannot be accepted,” the statement said.
Also, the Ministry of Health has said that it should work with the state governments to count the deaths due to oxygen deficiency and to process the documentation of the deaths due to Covid.