Centre asks states, UTs to ensure free medical oxygen movement

New Delhi (NVI): The Union Health Ministry today asked the states and UTs to ensure that no restriction is imposed on the movement of medical oxygen and noted that they were responsible to ensure that every hospitalised COVID patient receives oxygen.

“It has come to the knowledge of the Union Health Ministry that few States are trying to curb the free inter-State movement of oxygen supplies by exercising provisions under various Acts and also mandating the manufacturers/suppliers located in the State to restrict their oxygen supplies to only the hospitals of the State,’’ the Ministry noted in a statement.

In view of this, the Health Ministry has reiterated the critical importance of Oxygen in hospitals for management of critical COVID patients.

In a letter written to the States/UTs, Union Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, emphasised that availability of adequate and uninterrupted supply of medical oxygen was an important prerequisite for managing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19. He urged them to ensure that no restriction was imposed on the movement of medical oxygen.

The Ministry said, “It has been strongly reinforced that it is every State’s responsibility to ensure that every hospitalised COVID-19 patient receives oxygen.’’

It had brought to the notice of all concerned that medical oxygen constituted an Essential Public Health Commodity and any impediment in its supplies may critically impact the management of COVID-19 patients.

“Moreover, some of the major oxygen manufacturers/supplies already have existing supply agreements with hospitals in various States with a legal obligation to fulfill such agreements,” it stated.

The Centre-led COVID management strategy is based on Standard of Care Treatment Guidelines. These guidelines have ensured a uniform and standardised quality of medical care in all the COVID facilities, including hospitals.

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 rising Recovery Rate and steadily declining Case Fatality Rate (1.67 per cent currently). As on date, less than 3.7 per cent of active patients are on oxygen support, the Health Ministry stated.