Express news service
85-year-old senior doctor JK Mishra from Swarup Rani Nehru Hospital in Prayagraj (UP) lost his life on April 26 after being unable to find a ventilator bed at the hospital where he had served for 50 years .
In Palanpur City, Banaskantha District, Gujarat, Dr Naresh Shah, 79, died on April 22 as his family could not find a ventilator bed.
Famous Hindustani classical singer Pt Rajan Mishra died of complications from COVID-19 in a Delhi hospital on April 26. Her son said the family were desperate for a ventilator “but no one supported us” and by the time the PMO reached out, “he had left us”.
The shortage of ventilators during the peak of the second wave of COVID-19 claimed many lives. But even as patients suffered from a lack of vital medical equipment, hundreds of machines shipped to various states remained unused.
Until the end of May, more than 5,500 ventilators were collecting dust in warehouses in various states, the Department of Health and Family Welfare informed in its response to a request filed by The new Indian express under the Right to Information Act (RTI). The response revealed a substantial gap between the number of ventilators ordered, delivered and installed in hospitals across the country.
According to the response, the ministry ordered 60,559 ventilators from different manufacturers, of which 46,511 were awarded to the states. The rest was for central government hospitals. According to the ministry, 45,191 ventilators have been delivered, of which 39,640 have been installed by the states through May 25, leaving 5,551 unused.
Unused fans pile up: Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat among biggest defaults
Amid reports of a severe shortage of ventilators even as positive cases saw massive daily peaks in April-May, there has been intense exchange between the Center and some congressional-led states over the shortage as well as the delivery of defective machines.
On April 11, the Union’s health secretary wrote a letter to some states, including the Punjab, to act on the inactive ventilators in their possession. “Failure to commission the ventilators defeats the purpose” of fighting the pandemic, he said in his letter to Punjab chief secretary Viny Mahajan.
According to RTI’s response, however, it was in the BJP-led UP, Karnataka and Gujarat where the maximum number of ventilators was unused. Of the 5,116 machines delivered to Uttar Pradesh, 4,010 were operational until the end of May, while 1,106 had yet to be installed.
Gujarat and Karnataka recorded the delivery of 5,600 and 2,913 ventilators, of which they installed 4,991 and 2,004 respectively. This means that more than 900 ventilators in Karnataka and more than 600 in Gujarat were inactive.
In contrast, the Congress-led Punjab and Rajasthan had only 56 and 29 idle fans, respectively. Among the opposition-ruled states, Jharkhand was the largest defaulter with only 461 of the 1,210 fans installed.
In Madhya Pradesh, even as patients desperately needed ventilation beds, the state government told the High Court earlier this month that 204 ventilators were being kept on reserve as a “safeguard.” . At the height of the second wave in May, the governments of Punjab and Rajasthan alleged that ventilators supplied to them under PM-CARES were deemed “defective and substandard” by the hospitals that used them.
There have been dozens of reports from other states, including Maharashtra, of hundreds of machines that had died because they were faulty. In many cases, devices were unpacked because the hospital lacked qualified healthcare professionals to operate them.
Regarding a query about non-functioning ventilators or ventilators returned to manufacturers, the health ministry said in its RTI that “the information is not centrally available.” He revealed he ordered a performance audit after receiving complaints.
“After some reports of unused fans in some states, the ministry ordered a performance audit of the installation / commissioning and operation of the fans provided by the Center to the states / UTs to be performed,” the Ministry said. response from RTI. There was also a huge difference in the prices of ventilators bought by the government from different companies.
While 30,000 machines were ordered from Bharat Electronics at Rs 5,04,640 per unit, 9,500 units were ordered from AMTZ (Basic) at the rate of Rs 1,66,376 per piece. Allied Medical provided 350 pieces of equipment at Rs 8,62,400 per unit.
About 1,000 ventilators were purchased from Sinopharm at Rs 10,89,500 per unit and 771 units were ordered from Hamilton at Rs 10,324,400 per piece, while 15 nits purchased from Draeger cost Rs 17 lakh each.