Makeshift Covid Care Centres in Delhi are facing an acute shortage of flowmeters. It is a device that is used to supply oxygen to a patient from an oxygen cylinder. It also helps to measure the volume of gas released from the cylinder.
A non-government organisation, Doctors For You, which has been running four makeshift Covid Care Centres in Delhi, has said that it is not able to add oxygen beds in its centres due to lack of availability of flowmeters.
“The country needs at least 2 lakh flowmeters but at present, we have only 6000 in use at various places and it is completely out of the stock,” Dr Ravikant Singh, Founder of the Doctors for You, said.
He added, “There are only three manufacturers in India and all of them have sold it out completely. We have oxygen cylinders but we are not able to use them as we don’t have flowmeters.”
Doctors For You has ordered 1000 flowmeters from Japan which will cost about Rs 42 to Rs 45 lakh. “I am hoping to get the delivery within a few days,” he said.
Sources in the Union Health Ministry said that the health officials were completely oblivious about the requirement of the flowmeter and till now no efforts were taken to issue any instruction to the concerned ministry and departments to enhance the supply.
“Lot of efforts are on to enhance the production of liquid oxygen gas but no one is talking about the shortage of flowmeters," a health ministry official said requesting anonymity.
Like essential medicines and oxygen cylinders, flowmeters are also selling at an exorbitant price in the black market.
“Normally it costs anywhere between 400 to 600, but today it is priceless,” NK Mishra, a resident of Greater Kailash, said. He says that he has been looking for it for the past two days but hasn’t been able to get one.
Black-marketeers are charging anywhere between Rs 5000 to even Rs 10,000 depending upon the urgency of a patient.
“Initially many people stockpiled oxygen cylinders at home in a panic. They didn’t even need that. Now, they realise that they need flowmeters also. So, they are running for the pillar to post for that,” a gas filling station in Faridabad said.
Dr Singh says that if they get an adequate number of oxygen cylinders and flowmeters they are capable of providing 2500 oxygen beds for patients at their four Covid Centres.
At present, his four centres are providing less than even 20 per cent of their full capacity. “We have only 350 oxygen beds operational right now,” Dr Singh said.
These four Covid Care Centres are at CWG Games Village; Yamuna Sports Complex; Govt. school at Rouse Avenue and Shehnai Bagh.