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Post Covid, India adds over 400,000 oxygen-supported beds

The number of oxygen-supported beds was just 62,458 in April 2020. But as the explosion in Covid cases in the three waves underlined the need for more such beds, hospitals seem to have increased the number to 5,15,345 by February 2024, recording a growth of 725 per cent.

This is according to data presented by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to the Lok Sabha this month.

Covid-19 peak
Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu witnessed the largest increases of 1.2 lakh and 57,810 in oxygen-supported beds since the Covid. The more robust healthcare infrastructure and higher affordability in these States could have motivated hospitals to beef up their oxygen beds since the pandemic.

The more populous State of Uttar Pradesh comes next, followed by the wealthier States of Gujarat and Karnataka.

During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, social media platforms were inundated with requests from family members of patients seeking oxygen beds for their loved ones.

To address the surge in demand for oxygen during peak Covid-19, the Central government had supported States in terms of increasing the availability, streamlining the distribution and strengthening the oxygen-storage infrastructure in the country. Steps were initiated to import Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) from overseas, Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Plants were taken up besides providing oxygen cylinders and concentrators to States.

The government data indicate that States have learned from the pandemic, with even those States that previously had a large number of oxygen-supported beds, adding substantially to their capacity in the post-Covid-19 years. For example, in April 2020, Maharashtra had the highest number of oxygen-supported beds. The State has since increased its count from 11,254 to 1,32,314, representing a rise of 1,076 per cent.

This expansion of oxygen-supported beds is a critical step in strengthening India’s healthcare system and improving its ability to respond to future health crises. It reflects a concerted effort by State governments to address the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure that adequate healthcare infrastructure is in place to meet the needs of the population. The Hindu Business Line

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