Updated: May 6, 2021 7:30:49 am
White House’s Covid-19 testing kits in New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital; an Italian oxygen plant in the ITBP hospital in Greater Noida; a French oxygen plant at Indraprastha Apollo hospital in New Delhi; and Irish oxygen concentrators in PGI, Chandigarh.
Amid a rising Covid curve, as help pours in from the global community and as India departs from its 16-year-old policy of not accepting foreign aid, oxygen-related equipment and life-saving medicines from abroad have started reaching hospitals in Delhi and beyond.
At least 14 countries have already started sending their material in aircraft and ships, and they are being sent out, mostly to government hospitals.
According to sources, the supplies are being sent as per requirement spelt out by the Health Ministry.
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From the US to Russia, Italy to Thailand, Germany to Ireland and France — countries have been sending oxygen concentrators, some have been building oxygen plants, some are sending ventilators, while others are sending rapid testing kits, and essential medicines.
Among the supplies that went out:
* Pulse oximeters from the US have gone to Safdarjung Hospital. About 7 lakh rapid detection kits from the US — the kind that is used by the White House — have gone to Safdarjung, AIIMS Jhajjar, ICMR and Lady Hardinge Medical College. One large oxygen plant from the US has arrived from California.
* 20 large oxygen concentrators, 75 lung ventilation equipment and 150 bedside monitors from Russia have gone to Lady Hardinge Medical College in New Delhi.
Out of 2 lakh flavipiravir (an oral antiviral drug) from Russia, 25,000 have been sent to Safdarjung Hospital, 2,000 to LHMC, 30,000 to AIIMS Rishikesh, 40,000 to AIIMS Jodhpur, 10,000 to AIIMS Rai Bareilly, 30,000 to RML Hospital, 38,000 to AIIMS Delhi and 25,000 to AIIMS Jhajjar.
* Oxygen generation plants from France have gone to Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital,
Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in Delhi, Ambedkar Nagar Hospital in Delhi, and Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences. Sources said one oxygen plant can sustain a 250-bed hospital, and has a life-cycle of 12 years.
* 30 oxygen concentrators from Thailand have gone to CGHS hospitals (15) and Safdarjang Hospital (15).
* 700 oxygen concentrators from Ireland have gone to AIIMS in various states and PGI, Chandigarh.
* Oxygen plant from Italy is being set up at the ITBP hospital in Greater Noida.
* 120 ventilators from Germany have been sent to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital and AIIMS in New Delhi.
Sources said these are just some of the material which were received from foreign governments since May 26.
German ambassador Walter J Lindner said the 120 ventilators sent to India are from the German government to the Government of India, but there are many more that are coming in through the private sector.
“The Tatas are importing 20 mobile oxygen tankers, and FICCI and German companies are bringing in 1,500 oxygen concentrators,” Lindner told The Indian Express, adding that a massive oxygen plant is being brought in two A-400 planes for an Indian military hospital that will cater to civilians in India.
Indian government sources said the donor countries are being told about the beneficiaries of the aid.
In the case of Italy and France, embassy officials and technical teams are working with local hospitals to prepare the groundwork for setting up the oxygen plants.
French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said they are setting up these oxygen plants in about 10 days. About 28 tonnes of equipment were brought in aircraft, along with 28 ventilators. “We start working with the (beneficiary) hospitals (in India) to make sure that they have the proper capacity, where they could plug it, use it.”
For the Italian oxygen plant in Greater Noida, about 18 professionals — doctors, technicians — have come to set up the machine capable of supplying an entire hospital. The plant, along with 20 lung respirators, were brought in by the Italian Air Force C-130.
Italian ambassador to India Vincenzo De Luca said, “Italy stands with India in the fight against coronavirus. This is a global challenge that we must tackle together. The medical team and equipment provided by Italy will contribute to saving lives in these terrible moments.”
Officials said the government has been receiving aid from April 27 onwards — from the UK, Ireland, Romania, Russia, UAE, USA, Taiwan, Kuwait, France, Thailand, Germany, Uzbekistan, Belgium and Italy, among others.
Till May 4, the Health Ministry said, India received 1,764 oxygen concentrators, 1,760 oxygen cylinders, seven oxygen generation plants, 450 ventilators and more than 1.35 lakh remdesivir vials, among other things
Sources said the aid is not huge, but is helpful in meeting the “immediate needs” and is being sent to the “high-burden states”.
On the selection of institutions for foreign aid, sources said the Health Ministry was making the allocations “keeping in mind equitable distribution and the load on tertiary healthcare facilities”.
A Health Ministry statement on Wednesday said that a cell under the Additional Secretary (Health) has been working in the ministry since April 26 to “coordinate the receipt and allocation of foreign COVID relief material as grants, aid and donations.”
“We want to use the aid properly, and as effectively as possible without wasting much time in official formalities,” a source said, adding that a 9.30 am meeting between stakeholders takes place every day.
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