More questions than answers
Politics of oxygen
Medical oxygen or rather the lack of it is at the centre of it all even as the second wave of the pandemic continues to exact a heavy toll on thousands of people across the country. Manipur too has seen an upsurge in positive cases, running into the three figure mark on a daily basis and even as the State Government has declared the whole of Greater Imphal and the the areas that come under the Imphal Municipal Corporation a containment zone, RIMS came out with two statements, one after the other, leaving more questions than answers. On April 30, the Medical Superintendent of the biggest hospital in Manipur issued a statement that routine operations of all the Departments of the institution stand cancelled ‘due to acute shortage of oxygen and in view of the increasing number of COVID-19 patients.’ This was however withdrawn just a few hours later with the explanation that it was an oversight adding, ‘The previous order was issued just to give emphasis on heavy consumption of medical oxygen due to increase in the number of COVID-19 severe patients admitted in RIMS hospital and the need to reserve adequate oxygen for COVID-19 patients.’ That the two statements, which contradicted each other, came just a few days after Chief Minister N Biren announced for all to hear and read that there is enough stock of medical oxygen in the State is what has made things all that more interesting though it may leave quite a large number of people confused as well. How can the oversight be committed, given that medical oxygen is at the centre of it all during the second surge of the pandemic is the question that many would be asking. And more interestingly which of the two version of the statements will go down with the people ? This poser is important given that many have reportedly passed away in other parts of the country just because there is no medical oxygen for the patients.
The politics of medical oxygen. This is what many will read into the situation, and the important question is whether there is indeed shortage of medical oxygen at RIMS or whether RIMS will be able to meet the demand for oxygen by those infected by the virus without jeopardising the other routine operations, where oxygen will be needed ? Only time will tell, but then even if there is adequate oxygen stock at the said hospital many would be inclined to suspect otherwise if an operation for any other ailment has to be put on hold for some reason other than the availability of oxygen. The interesting point is the first statement, but withdrawn later, came even as there was a report that RIMS had added the requisite components to produce 3,50,000 litres of medical oxygen daily on April 24. The question is whether the oxygen manufacturing plant is functioning without a glitch or whether there are any technical glitches that need to be repaired. Only RIMS can answer this but answer it should for the situation demands that anything as sensitive as medical oxygen stock need to be explained clearly to the people. How about the private oxygen producing plants in Manipur ? Has the State Government tied up with them to keep all the hospitals well supplied ? These questions have been raised for there is the need for the public to know where Manipur stands as far as supply of medical oxygen is concerned in the backdrop of the ever increasing positive cases.