In 2020, WHO recommended supplemental oxygen therapy for COVID-19 patients with respiratory distress, hypoxemia or shock. However to provide oxygen therapy, robust equipment like ventilators and oxygen cylinders would be required.
But in remote rural India, poor health infrastructure meant such equipment would be unaffordable and stations for refilling oxygen cylinders were not yet established. To address the issue, ACF proposed the supply of oxygen concentrators that are easily portable and can be moved in between clinical areas and has since played a crucial role in taking oxygen to remote, rural communities to save lives.
In September 2020, ACF reached out to Public Health Department mapping centres which were in need of these self-contained medical devices for critically ill patients. Upon analyzing the number of beds, average cases requiring therapy and the availability of oxygen cylinders, it was decided to provide concentrators as a routine supply which could help reduce the dependency at the district level for refilling oxygen cylinders and most patients wouldn’t require referrals. As a result, 14 concentrators and 5 cylinders were provided to COVID-19 centres, hospitals, community and public healthcare centres in 6 locations.
Out of the 14,000 people treated at the centres where the oxygen concentrators were provided, 755 people have received oxygen therapy in the last 8 months. An average of 94 beneficiaries were provided with oxygen therapy per month from September 2020 to April 2021.
It was noticed that the COVID-19 care centre in Roorkee was forced to refer COVID-19 patients to private hospitals for oxygen therapy. But with the concentrators and cylinders provided by ACF, both families and centres saved money.
Darlaghat and Nalagarh based in Himachal Pradesh had to send their patients to Chandigarh which is a 100km winding journey and risky for severe patients. The concentrators proved to be helpful for the centres to control the situation. Seeing the benefits of these oxygen concentrators, the local government in Ropar has also gone ahead and procured these devices for the community healthcare centre in Bhartgarh, and claimed them to be more beneficial than a cylinder and easier to operate.
There was a sudden drop in cases at the beginning of 2021 but a gradual increase in cases in March 2021 saw the Health Administration increase demand for oxygen supply once more. The oxygen concentrators proved to be helpful to the healthcare team even during these times. The local healthcare centres have seen a high increase in cases and support is required in various ways.
As per ACF’s latest mapping, there is a requirement of 405 concentrators across locations. If you are willing to extend your support please call Dr. Vinayak Sonawane, Head of Health at ACF: 9594989275