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ED: We cannot afford an oxygen crisis

  • Published at 02:53 pm April 28th, 2021
Oxygen-Cylinder-ventilator-DNCC
An oxygen cylinder is attached to a ventilator at a hospital bed Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Right now, our moves should be guiding by scientific and humanitarian principles, not profit for certain sectors or individuals

At a time when we have our hands more than full, with a vaccine crisis as well as a hospital bed crisis, another worry looming on the horizon is a serious oxygen crisis. Right now, the majority of health care facilities in the country get supplies of oxygen in gaseous form rather than liquid form. There is convenience in this: Gaseous oxygen is easier to store. However, this could potentially lead to a resupply crisis, which is looking more and more likely with pressure increasing on hospitals day by day. 

The government recently decided to install more gaseous oxygen tanks in order to increase storage capacity, but this may not have been fully thought through. As the Directorate General of Health Services has told this newspaper: “If patient pressure increases, we could have some serious problems. What is the point of having oxygen supply if there is no storage capacity?” 

These are highly technical matters, and experts should be consulted in order to get it right. The demand for oxygen is now enormous, having increased by 40% since last year’s first wave. Meeting this demand is a tall order, and while storing liquid oxygen involves a more complex and expensive process, it allows the storage of more oxygen within the same amount of space.
 
With increased pressure on hospitals, experts say this would make more sense. 
Right now, our moves should be guiding by scientific and humanitarian principles, not profit for certain sectors or individuals, or bureaucracy, or politics. To get through this Covid-19 crisis and minimize deaths, we need to have more oxygen at hand -- let us do the needful to realistically solve this problem. 
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