Published on April 26, 2021

AHMEDABAD: Oxygen supply problems, doctors counting minutes for the arrival of the next oxygen consignment to sustain patients, hospitals denying admission due to the lack of oxygen — for a person in cities like Ahmedabad, this may sound grimly familiar. But the scarcity has now percolated down to tier II cities and towns of Gujarat.

The majority of the districts are just about getting by on the existing supply chain, but the rise in cases may destabilize the balance, some medicos say. Thus, in some districts, authorities have passed formal or informal orders to regulate the supply before the situation gets dire.

Dr Girish Anand, district president of Indian Medical Association in Narmada-Rajpipla, said that they had to turn a few patients away due to the lack of oxygen. “We try to find ways to ensure that the supply remains uninterrupted,” he said.

“We are literally operating hand-to-mouth when it comes to oxygen supply and usage,” said Dr Vijay Goswami, an anaesthetist from Jamnagar. “Today, the doctors’ time is equally divided between providing treatment and getting oxygen.”

Dr Goswami added: “But the medical fraternity ensures that if some hospitals run out of oxygen, other rush to help and ensure that the patients don’t suffer.”

In Valsad, doctors have pooled in resources to get oxygen on their own directly from the manufacturers whereas some southern districts are reeling from a steep rise in oxygen prices.

“While the state government has opened up Covid treatment for all hospitals, the oxygen requirement is surely playing a deterrent for several of them,” said Dr Ketan Patel, a doctor from Dahod. “With oxygen being an integral component of the treatment protocol, hospitals cannot admit a patient if supply is not ensured.”

Dr Patel added: “While the oxygen supply is divided between government and private hospitals, major hospitals are so far getting adequate stock. But it may not be the case if the number of hospitals increase.”

Several doctor bodies have already made representations to the state government to divert oxygen supply to the medical sector.

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