Lok Nayak Hospital, one of Delhi’s most prominent coronavirus treatment facilities, has alleged that the 175 ventilators that it received from the Centre lack an important mode, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
The hospital staff told the Directorate General of Health Services that the ventilators did not have a Bilevel positive airway pressure or BiPAP mode, which allows doctors to supply oxygen to patients without inserting tubes in their airway. The hospital asked the government to provide 250 more ventilators equipped with the technology.
An unidentified senior doctor at the hospital told the newspaper that very few patients are given oxygen through tubes. “These [ventilators given by the Centre] are only invasive and can be used on only 10%-15% of patients,” the doctor said. “The usefulness of these machines is very less.” The doctor added that BiPAP-equipped ventilators help with natural breathing. He also said that the delivery rate of oxygen to patients is usually 40-50 litres per minute, but the ventilators supplied by the Centre have a maximum capacity of 25 litres.
Lok Nayak Hospital’s Medical Director Dr Suresh Kumar told The Indian Express that the hospital will form a committee to analyse how the machines can be modified. “The engineers will have to upgrade the equipment, how we can use it after modifying it,” he said.
There have been complaints about the ventilators from Mumbai too. The city’s St George Hospital and JJ Hospital had rejected 81 “Made in India” ventilators last month, saying that they could not use it for coronavirus patients under any circumstances, according to Mumbai Mirror. One ventilator showed failure within five minutes of being plugged in. The ventilators were manufactured by Delhi-based AgVa Healthcare and donated to the hospitals by non-governmental organisations.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, on the other hand, said that these low-cost “Made in India” ventilators were equipped with the necessary technology. “Ventilator models BEL and AgVa supplied to the states and the union territories are complying with the requirements as per the specifications laid down by a Technical Committee,” the union health ministry said in a press release. “These cost effective made in India ventilators have the BiPAP mode and other such modes as have been prescribed in the technical specifications.”
Last month, the Centre had allocated Rs 2,000 crore from the PM-Cares Fund for the supply of 50,000 “Made in India” ventilators to states and Union Territories amid their fight against the coronavirus. A panel of doctors, in an assessment report on June 1, had said that the Centre could purchase the ventilators, made by Indian startup AgVa Healthcare, but advised against replacing them for high-end ventilators in intensive care units.