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Amid the second wave of COVID-19, as help pours in from foreign nations and as India departs from its 16-year-old policy of not accepting foreign aid, covid medicines, as well as oxygen-related equipment from other countries, have started reaching hospitals in Delhi and other cities. At least 14 foreign countries have started sending their material in ships and aircraft already. Most of these items are being sent to government hospitals. According to sources quoted in an IE report, the medical supplies are being sent as per the requirement stated by the Health Ministry. Countries like the United States, Russia, Ireland, Thailand, France, Italy, Germany, have been contributing to India’s medical requirement by building oxygen plants, sending ventilators, oxygen concentrators, rapid testing kits, and medicines.
The supplies that went out include:
- Pulse oximeters from the United States have been provided to Safdarjung Hospital. Nearly 7 lakh rapid covid detection kits, the type that is used by the White House in the US, have gone to AIIMS Jhajjar, Safdarjung, ICMR and Lady Hardinge Medical College. Besides one large oxygen plant has arrived from California.
- As many as 150 bedside monitors, 75 lung ventilation equipment and 20 large oxygen concentrators from Russia have gone to Lady Hardinge Medical College in the national capital. Out of 2 lakh flavipiravir, 25,000 of this oral antiviral drug have been sent to Safdarjung Hospital, 40,000 to AIIMS Jodhpur, 30,000 to AIIMS Rishikesh, 2,000 to LHMC, 10,000 to AIIMS Rai Bareilly, 38,000 to AIIMS Delhi, 30,000 to RML Hospital and 25,000 to AIIMS Jhajjar, from Russia.
- From France, oxygen generation plants have gone to Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in Delhi, Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital and Ambedkar Nagar Hospital in Delhi. According to sources quoted in the report, one oxygen plant can sustain a 250-bed hospital and has 12 years’ life-cycle.
- From Thailand, out of 30 oxygen concentrators, 15 have gone to CGHS hospitals and the other 15 to Safdarjang Hospital.
- From Ireland, 700 oxygen concentrators have gone to AIIMS in various states as well as PGI, Chandigarh.
- An Italian oxygen plant is being set up at Greater Noida’s ITBP hospital.
- From Germany, a total of 120 ventilators have been sent to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital.
Sources quoted in the report said these are just some of the medical supplies which were received from foreign governments since May 26. According to German ambassador Walter J Lindner, the 120 ventilators sent to India are from the German government to the Indian government, but many more are coming in through the private sector. Lindner said that 20 mobile oxygen tankers are being imported by the Tatas, while FICCI and German companies are bringing in as many as 1,500 oxygen concentrators. To cater to civilians in India, a massive oxygen plant is being brought in two A-400 planes for an Indian military hospital, the German ambassador said.
In the case of France and Italy, embassy officials, as well as technical teams, are working with local hospitals to prepare the groundwork for setting up the oxygen plants in India. According to French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain, they are setting up these oxygen plants in around 10 days. Nearly 28 tonnes of equipment along with 28 ventilators were brought in aircraft. For the Italian oxygen plant, about 18 professionals including doctors, technicians have come to set up the machine that is capable of supplying an entire hospital. The oxygen plant, along with 20 lung respirators, were brought to India by the Italian Air Force C-130.
From April 27 onwards, the government has been receiving aid — from the UK, UAE, Taiwan, France, Thailand, Ireland, Belgium, Romania, Russia, Kuwait, USA, Germany, Uzbekistan and Italy, among others, officials said. The Health Ministry said, till May 4, India received as many as 1,760 oxygen cylinders, 1,764 oxygen concentrators, 450 ventilators, seven oxygen generation plants, and more than 1.35 lakh remdesivir vials, among other things.
According to the sources quoted in the report, even though the aid is not huge, it is helpful in meeting the immediate requirements and is being sent to the “high-burden states”. On the institutions’ selection for foreign aid, they said allocations are made by the Health Ministry considering equitable distribution as well as the load on tertiary healthcare facilities.