Centre biased on oxygen, vials: Eatala

Eatala Rajender   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

Though Telangana has placed an order for over 4 lakh vials of Remdesivir, the State was allotted only 21,551 vials of the anti-viral drug for 10 days (April 21-30).

Health Minister Eatala Rajender, who set alarm bells ringing on crucial COVID-19 resources, lashed out at the Central government’s ‘discrimination’ in allotting vaccines and oxygen to the State.

‘Centre responsible’

Requesting procurement of oxygen from places near Telangana, he said that the Central government would be responsible for oxygen shortage in the State if they do not make changes in norms.

During a press conference in the city on Thursday, he pointed out the problems with procurement of oxygen from faraway places in other States, why Hyderabad should not be seen as a place where patients only from Telangana get admitted, and other issues. He also pointed out to partiality towards Gujarat, and neglect towards Telangana.

Remdesivir is manufactured by at least two companies in and around Hyderabad. Till Wednesday, the State was procuring it directly. Mr. Rajender said that the Central government had issued an order on April 21 stating that they would take control over Remdesivir injections, other vaccines and oxygen.

“This is so saddening,” he said. Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan was informed of the issue, but there was no response.

He said that while the State was allotted only 21,551 vials of Remdesivir, Gujarat was allotted 1.63 lakh vials, Maharashtra 2 lakh vials, 61,000 to Delhi, and 92,000 to Madhya Pradesh.

60-70% from other States

Mr. Rajender said that around 60-70% of patients admitted in hospitals in Hyderabad were from other States. Usually, patients from Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Maharashtra get admitted to hospitals in the city.

The Minister mentioned this to drive home the point that patients from various States get treated in the city, and meagre allocation of the antiviral drug or other resources would create a crisis.

“We cannot impose a condition to admit patients only from our State. As the entire nation is in crisis, it is our responsibility to treat patients from everywhere. They should not face any issues. We placed order for 4 lakh vials of Remdesivir. I will write a letter to Union Health Minister,” he said.

Currently, Telangana requires around 260-270 metric tonnes of oxygen per day, and the demand may go up to 350 metric tonnes per day, he said. Mr. Rajender said that oxygen was procured from other States, not from Telangana.

Around 20 metric tonnes of oxygen is procured from Bellary, 30 more from Hospet, 20 from Chennai and 84 from Odisha.

“Getting oxygen from places as far as 1,300 km is difficult. Special tankers are needed for that. We asked Dr. Harsh Vardhan to allocate oxygen from nearby places like Visakhapatnam, Sriperumbudur, and Bellary. If the Central government does not change its stance, it will have to take responsibility if there is any shortage,” he said.

Vaccine crunch

Shortage of COVID vaccines too, was pointed out at the presser. The Health Minister said that had vaccine production been increased, we would not have seen the shortage. He said that Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had asked for increase in production.

“Our suggestions were not considered,” he said, calling out varying prices of vaccines for Central and State governments.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 6:30:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/centre-biased-on-oxygen-vials-eatala/article34388411.ece

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