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Govt launches Project O2 to meet growing demand for medical oxygen

Apart from oxygen generation, the covid-19 cases surged in different parts of the country leaving infrastructure in hospitals under immense pressure.Premium
Apart from oxygen generation, the covid-19 cases surged in different parts of the country leaving infrastructure in hospitals under immense pressure.

  • The government has come up with ‘Project O2 for India’ and modular hospitals to boost the country's ability to meet the sudden rise in demand of medical oxygen and hospital beds after the second wave
  • Under the project, a National Consortium of Oxygen is enabling the national level supply of critical raw materials, setting up of small oxygen plants, oxygen plants, concentrators, and ventilators

NEW DELHI : In a bid to boost India’s ability to meet the sudden rise in demand of medical oxygen and hospital beds after the second wave of covid-19, the government has come up with ‘Project O2 for India’ and modular hospitals.

Under the project, a National Consortium of Oxygen is enabling the national level supply of critical raw materials such as zeolites, setting up of small oxygen plants, manufacturing compressors, final products i.e., oxygen plants, concentrators, and ventilators, the government said. The consortium is not only looking forward to providing immediate to short-term relief but also working to strengthen the manufacturing ecosystem for long-term preparedness, the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser said.

A committee of experts has been evaluating critical equipment such as oxygen plants, concentrators, and ventilators, from a pool of India-based manufacturers, startups, and MSMEs in partnership with FICCI, MESA and others. The manufacturing and supply consortium also includes Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL); Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE); C-CAMP, Bengaluru; IIT Kanpur (IIT-K); IIT Delhi (IIT-D); IIT Bombay (IIT-B), IIT Hyderabad (IIT-H); IISER, Bhopal; Venture Center, Pune; and more than 40 MSMEs.

The second wave of covid-19 saw an increase in demand for medical oxygen in different parts of the country. While meeting the current demand, manufacturing medical oxygen also became important to ensure India has adequate supply in the future.

The consortium has started to secure CSR/philanthropic grants from organizations like USAID, Edwards Life sciences Foundation, Climate Works Foundation, etc. Hope Foundation, American Indian Foundation, Walmart, Hitachi, BNP Paribas, and eInfo Chips are procuring oxygen concentrators and VPSA/PSA plants as part of their CSR efforts to aid the consortium’s work. NMDC Ltd has agreed to fund the procurement of raw materials like zeolite for the manufacturers in the consortium.

Apart from oxygen generation, the covid-19 cases surged in different parts of the country leaving infrastructure in hospitals under immense pressure. The government is also looking at modular hospitals which are an extension of hospital infrastructure and can be built adjacent to an existing hospital building.

Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser invited private sector companies, donor organizations, and individuals to support various projects of national importance. Project Extension Hospitals is one such initiative. The office of PSA identified requirements of close to 50 hospitals in states where the highest number of covid-19 cases were reported.

Modulus Housing, a startup incubated at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) developed the MediCAB hospitals. This enables building a 100-bedded extension facility in 3-weeks’ time. MediCAB hospitals are designed with a dedicated zone of Intensive Care Units (ICUs) that can accommodate various life-support equipment and medical devices. These negative pressure portable hospitals have durability of around 25 years, and they can also be shifted in the future for any disaster response in less than a week.

“These rapidly deployable hospitals will plug a major health infrastructure gap in India’s fight against covid-19, especially in rural areas and smaller towns. The O/o PSA has been actively working towards securing CSR support to implement these projects in different areas across the nation," said the government in a statement.

Modulus Housing has started deploying MediCAB extension hospitals with the help of the American Indian Foundation (AIF). Mastercard, Texas Instruments, Zscaler, PNB Housing, Goldman Sachs, Lenovo, and NASSCOM Foundation have also extended CSR support. The first batch of 100 bedded hospitals is being commissioned at Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh); Amravati, Pune, and Jalna (Maharastra); Mohali (Punjab), and a 20-bed hospital at Raipur (Chhattisgarh). Bengaluru (Karnataka) will have one each of 20-, 50-, and 100-beds in the first phase.

The Office of PSA has also collaborated with Tata Projects Ltd to deploy modular hospitals at multiple sites in Punjab and Chhattisgarh. They have initiated work on 48 bedded modular hospitals in Gurdaspur and Faridkot (Punjab). Expansion of ICU at multiple hospitals in Chhattisgarh including Raipur, Jashpur, Bemetara, Kanker, and Gaurella are also underway.

April and May saw a sudden rise in covid-19 cases reaching up to 450,000 a day and deaths touching as high as 4,000 each day. Several patients had harrowing times in procuring oxygen while many died due to lack of hospital beds, oxygen and medical treatment.

India has reported 80,834 fresh covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. The country’s active caseload on Sunday stands at 1,026,159. A net decline of 54,531 is witnessed in the last 24 hours and active cases are now only 3.49% of the country's total positive cases. Cumulatively India has conducted over 378.1 million (378,132,474) tests so far.

The cumulative number of covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country exceeded the 250 million mark on Saturday under the Nationwide Vaccination Drive. Nearly 3,484,239 vaccine doses were administered in the last 24 hours.

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