Local units install oxygen plants at Covid-19 hospitalsSince no help was forthcoming from the federal and the provincial governments, many local units in Lumbini initiated the installation of oxygen plants with the help of donors.
Various local units, hospitals and organisations in Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Gulmi and Arghakhanchi districts of Lumbini Province have come together to help install oxygen plants to scale up Covid-19 treatment in some of the worst-hit districts in the province.
The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the fragility of the health infrastructure across the country, as Covid-19-infected people are dying from a shortage of life-saving medical oxygen at hospitals.
On May 12, 11 Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment at the Corona Special Hospital in Butwal, Rupandehi lost their lives after the hospital ran out of medical oxygen.
The same day, three Covid-19 patients died at Bhairahawa-based Bhim Hospital.
Bhim Hospital is still reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen despite the efforts of the local administration, various organisations and oxygen gas suppliers to supply the hospital with oxygen cylinders.
“Our consumption is around 300 oxygen cylinders per day. The local government and some organisations and individuals have provided the hospital with oxygen cylinders but it’s not enough,” said Narayan Prasad Bhandari, chairman of the hospital development committee. “We plan to install an oxygen plant within the hospital premises. The hospital has so far collected Rs 800,000 with donations from various local units, businessmen, social organisations and local people.”
Tilottama Municipality in Rupandehi established a 40-bed isolation facility after the start of the second wave of the pandemic but all its beds are currently occupied.
The municipality is now setting up a 100-bed Covid-19 hospital at Tilottama Ward No. 9. According to Basudev Ghimire, mayor of the municipality, the hospital will have its own oxygen plant.
“The construction of the Covid-19 hospital is almost complete,” said Ghimire. “Oxygen pipes have been connected to every bed. This will ensure 24-hour oxygen supply to the patients,” said Ghimire, adding that the plant can generate oxygen to fill 15 oxygen cylinders at once.
The municipality has spent Rs 2.2 million to install oxygen pipes at the hospital. According to Ghimire, the Ministry of Finance provided Rs 6.5 million to run the Covid-19 hospital.
“Covid-19 patients from Tilottama will not have to go to Butwal or Bhairahawa for treatment,” said Ghimire. “With the installation of the oxygen plant, the hospital at Ward No 9 will be able to provide care to critical Covid-19 patients as well.”
Sainamaina Municipality in Rupandehi is also constructing an oxygen plant at the temporary Covid-19 hospital in the municipality.
“We have asked for a budget from the Ministry of Finance to install the oxygen plant. We have also been collecting funds from donors,” said Chitra Bahadur Karki, mayor of the municipality.
Local units in Kapilvastu have also started installing oxygen plants at Covid-19 hospitals in the district. Kiran Singh, mayor of Kapilvastu Municipality in Kapilvastu, said, “We have decided to install an oxygen plant rather than purchasing and refilling oxygen cylinders. The municipality will install the plant within 15 days.”
According to him, since no help was forthcoming from the federal and the provincial governments, the local unit decided to initiate the construction of an oxygen plant.
“We are prepared to fight the pandemic. Our municipality will not face a shortage of oxygen moving forward,” he said.
Bandganga Municipality in Kapilvastu also recently decided to construct an oxygen plant through a local-level executive meeting.
“We have started to conduct a pilot study for the construction of the oxygen plant. The municipality will also seek help from donors if we run short of funds,” said Basudev Khanal, chief administrative officer of the municipality.
So far, Lumbini Province has recorded 1,214 deaths from Covid-19 and 66,922 positive cases. According to the data of the Ministry of Social Development in the province, there are 15,858 active cases in the province at present.