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Medical colleges told to set up oxygen plants in six months

The move comes three days after the Centre informed the states about making captive oxygen plants in medical colleges as a “future norm”.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: April 29, 2021 5:18:13 am
Madhya Pradesh, Oxygen, Madhya Pradesh beds, Madhya Pradesh covid-19 cases, Madhya Pradesh coronavirus cases, india news, indian expressRelatives of Covid patients in queue with empty Oxygen cylinders. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

Amid an unprecedented demand for liquid medical oxygen across the country as the second surge goes on, the country’s medical education regulator has asked all medical college hospitals to set up dedicated Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants within six months.

The National Medical Commission (NMC), which regulates medical education in the country, on Monday issued a public notice informing about “draft amendments” to minimum requirements for Annual MBBS Admissions Regulation, 2020, to make captive oxygen plants mandatory for medical college hospitals in the country.

The move comes three days after the Centre informed the states about making captive oxygen plants in medical colleges as a “future norm”. This was informed during the Prime Minister’s meeting with chief ministers to review the pandemic situation on April 23.

The issue of shortage of medical oxygen supply was one of the discussion points in the meeting.

The NMC notice states, “Central Oxygen and Suction points shall include provision of piped oxygen supply to all beds in hospital having patients in critical condition/requiring oxygen from liquid oxygen tank installed at appropriate place in the hospital complex. In addition, all medical college hospitals are also required to have a dedicated PSA technology produced oxygen supply in addition to supply from liquid oxygen tank, which is to be installed and made operational within six months, notwithstanding the requirement of the Department of Emergency Medicine mandated from 2022 onwards.”

The notice was issued by NMC Secretary Dr R K Vats. Vats did not respond to phone calls and messages from The Indian Express seeking his comments.

The NMC’s move came a day after the government announced plans to set up 551 PSA oxygen plants in identified government hospitals in district headquarters across the country using PM-CARES funds.

On Wednesday, the PMO announced plans to procure 1 lakh portable oxygen concentrators using PM Care Fund. Besides, 500 new PSA oxygen plants will be set up with the indigenous technology developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the PMO said in a statement.

“The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to discuss the measures needed to improve Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) Supply for COVID management. PM instructed that these Oxygen Concentrators should be procured at the earliest & provided in states with high case burden,” the PMO said in a statement.

“In addition to the earlier sanctioned 713 PSA plants under PM Cares Fund, 500 new Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants have been sanctioned under PM CARES Fund,” the statement said.

“The PSA plants will augment the supply of Liquid Medical Oxygen at hospitals in district headquarters and Tier 2 cities. These 500 PSA plants will be established with transfer of the indigenous technology developed by DRDO and CSIR to the domestic manufacturers,” it said.

“Establishing PSA plants and procurement of portable oxygen concentrators will greatly augment the supply of oxygen near the demand clusters, thereby addressing the current logistical challenges in transporting oxygen from plants to hospitals,” it added.

Hospitals in several cities across India have faced shortage of medical oxygen supply over the last few days.

Official data shows that on April 24, various industries produced 9,103 metric tonnes (MT) of LMO against a previously existing capacity of 7,259 MT. The same day, the sale of LMO stood at 7,017 MT.

While production of liquid medical oxygen is more than the demand, its transportation from source to hospitals has become a major challenge.

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