Although as many as 50,000 ventilators were procured within a year on a war-footing through #PMCARES fund within a year to help in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, it has been found that due to the negligence of state governments a large number of them were not even unpacked for use.
Official figures show that although the availability of ventilators in government hospitals tripled in the country within a span of a single year the entire benefit could not be realized as red tape in state governments came in the way of fully utilising this equipment.
A team of Central government experts sent for field visits to states found that the “ventilators were lying unutilized in store rooms,” a senior official said.
A data report shows that the Centre had dispatched 43,788 ventilators to various states out of which 38,803 were installed by the first week of April. The audits revealed that over 5,000 ventilators lay either unpacked or uninstalled due to negligence of the states.
The Union Health Secretary, in fact, wrote to several state governments that had received ventilators through #PMCARES fund and asked them to take action so that the equipment lying idle could be put to use.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had, for instance, in a letter to Punjab Health Secretary Vini Mahajan asked the reason as to why 251 ventilators were uninstalled out of total 809 ventilators allocated to the Punjab Govt through #PMCARES fund.
While some states have been complaining about defective equipment, a senior official pointed out that a WhatsApp group was formed for the speedy attention to glitches and maintenance issues of these ventilators. Representatives of state health departments and manufactures like public sector company BEL were part of the group. However, cases of hoarding and non-cooperation by states were observed when the issue was being dealt with.
The Health Ministry ensured that any complaints of faulty machines or ventilators were addressed as teams from the health ministry & manufacturers were rushed to the locations with replacement of consumables etc. to ensure smooth functioning of these machines, the official added.