Hospitals in south Kashmir lack basic oxygen supplying devices

Major hospitals across south Kashmir are short of basic oxygen supplying devices required for treatment of patients with respiratory ailments.

On normal days, the patients are asked to purchase the items on their own from open market or hospitals including Government Medical College (GMC) Anantnag, reuse the devices after sterilization.

However, World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines strictly emphasize on discarding used masks by doctors, health workers and patients to prevent spread of coronavirus infection.

A senior doctor said with the threat of coronavirus looming large and lockdown in place, there was fear that the hospitals would soon be without these “basis oxygen flow system” including nasal prong, simple face oxygen mask, non- breather mask, venture mask and mask with bag reservoir.

He said, the nasal prong or cannula, used to deliver oxygen to a patient in need of respiratory help till six liter, costs barely Rs 70 in open market.

The doctor said if the patient requires supply up to 10 liter, then a simple oxygen mask is put to use which costs Rs 90. He said a non- breather mask costs Rs 140.

“In severe cases, when the patient does not respond, the doctors put to use Venturi or the venti mask which, delivers known oxygen concentration to patients on controlled oxygen therapy at much higher rates,” the doctor explained. It approximately costs Rs 150.

A mask with a bag reservoir costs Rs 150 approximately which is used in extreme cases.

The doctor said the basic low oxygen flow system is a prerequisite before putting respiratory failure patient on life support system or ventilator.

However, a health official said administration at the GMC Anantnag and district hospitals of Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian were yet to procure these basic devices, putting a question mark on the claims of government in dealing with the pandemic.

The situation in other district hospitals in north and central Kashmir is not different.

Principal Medical College Anantnag, Dr Showkat Jeelani said they already placed the order for “many things.”

“We have received some stock,” he said.

Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Sameer Matoo, however, said they have sufficient stock of the basic devices required for patients with respiratory ailments in every hospital.

“We are placing order for procuring more such items,” he said.