Parl panel recommends audit of deaths due to O2 shortage
NEW DELHI: A parliamentary committee has recommended the Union Health Ministry “audit deaths due to oxygen shortage”, especially during the Covid second wave, in coordination with states to enable robust documentation of the mortalities.
The committee said it was “disturbed” by the ministry’s “unfortunate denial” of Covid deaths due to oxygen shortage.
“The ministry must meticulously examine the oxygen-stricken Covid deaths and ensure that proper compensation is accorded to the families of the victims,” the panel said, adding it expected more transparency and accountability from government agencies.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, in its 137th report presented to Rajya Sabha on Monday, said the increase in the number of cases had put severe pressure on the health infrastructure.
There were several instances of patients’ families pleading for oxygen and waiting in queues for cylinders and the media reports about hospitals running out of the life-saving gas and making desperate appeals when they were reportedly left with only a few hours of supply, it said. The committee said that in its 123rd report it had warned the government of the possible shortage of oxygen cylinders and supply of oxygen in hospitals.
“The committee is disappointed to note that the ministry in its submission in 2020 had assured that the country is self-sufficient in oxygen and oxygen cylinders; however, their hollow claim was brutally exposed during the second wave,” the panel said in its 137th report.
“The government failed to manage even distribution of oxygen in states and amidst the skyrocketing demand it could not maintain a steady flow of oxygen leading to an unprecedented medical crisis,” the panel said.
Many lives could have been saved during the second wave if containment strategies were implemented on time, the panel further said while pulling up the government for not being able to anticipate the gravity of the situation.
“The committee is of the considered view that had the Government been successful in identification of the more virulent strain of virus in the population at an early stage and suitably implemented its containment strategy, the repercussions would have been less grave and many lives could have been saved,” it said.