New Delhi, May 13
The Centre on Thursday dismissed as “unfounded” media reports suggesting ventilators supplied by the Union government under the PM CARES Fund to GGS Medical College and Hospital in Punjab’s Faridkot are lying unused due to technical glitches which have not been resolved.
In a statement, the Union health ministry said lack of infrastructure at the Guru Gobind Singh Medical College (GGSMC) and Hospital has resulted in the malfunctioning of the life-saving machines.
In order to augment the existing hospital infrastructure, the Union government has been centrally procuring and providing states/union territories/central hospitals/institutes with essential medical devices including ventilators since April 2020, the ministry said in its statement.
“There have been some media reports suggesting that government of India supplied ventilators (supported by PM- CARES) to GGS Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot, Punjab are lying unused as a result of technical glitches which have not been resolved due to poor after-sales support by the manufacturers,” the ministry said in the statement.
“These reports seem to be unfounded, not having the full information on the matter,” it said.
With reference to the recent media report regarding 71 of 80 AgVa make ventilators being non-functional or faulty at the hospital, it is clarified that 88 ventilators have been supplied by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and five by AgVa.
After successful installation and commissioning, these ventilators were provided with final acceptance certificate by the hospital authorities, the statement said.
BEL has informed that the bulk of the ventilators are not faulty, as are being reported in a section of the media, the statement said.
Their engineers have visited the medical college on different occasions to address the complaints received and carried out minor repairs required promptly. They have even conducted repeated demonstrations of the functioning of the ventilators to the staff over there, the statement stated.
It was observed that there are problems with the infrastructure at the hospital including non-availability of required pressure in the central oxygen gas pipelines. Further, consumables like flow sensors, bacteria filters and HME filters are not being changed by the hospital authorities according to the prescribed norms, or the ventilators are being used without these important consumable items, the statement said.
Maintenance of correct gas pressures as difference between air pressure and oxygen pressure cannot be more than 10 PSI and use of proper consumables are essential requirements, without which performance of CV200 ventilators is not guaranteed, it said.
BEL engineers visited GGSMC again on Thursday and made five ventilators functional only by replacing a few consumables and demonstrated their optimum performance to the GGSMCH authorities, thereby, making it evident that when operated properly, the ventilators will provide reliable performance, the statement said.
In addition to the instructions given in the user manual, detailed instructions and guidelines have also been issued to all the ventilator users regarding infrastructure requirements, proper usage and maintenance of the CV200 ventilators, it said.
However, these are not being followed by many hospitals/medical colleges in Punjab. They have been, instead, raising the issue of ventilators being non-functional without any basis, the ministry said.
It is clarified that BEL will continue to provide all the technical support required by the state in meeting the ventilator requirement during this pandemic situation, it stressed.
Ventilators were available in very limited numbers in government hospitals across the country at the beginning of the pandemic last year, the statement said.
Moreover, very limited manufacturing of ventilators was taking place in the country and most of the suppliers abroad were not in a position to send the machines in large quantities to India, it said.
That is when local manufacturers were encouraged to produce ‘Make in India’ ventilators to address the huge projected demand and many of them were first time manufacturers, it said. The ventilator models went through rigorous screening, technical demonstration and clinical validation process in the very limited time available for the same, through domain knowledge experts, and after their approval, these were put into supplies, the statement said.
There are a few states which have received the ventilators but are yet to get these installed in their hospitals.
The Union health secretary has written to seven such states on April 11 which still have more than 50 ventilators lying uninstalled with them for the last 4-5 months, it said.
They have been requested to get the installation expedited so that the ventilators can be put to optimal use, the statement said.
In addition, the Union health ministry has written to states and UTs on May 9 informing them once again of the helpline numbers of ventilator manufactures, which are also available on the devices in the form of stickers.
In addition, information has again been provided of state wise WhatsApp groups created with the concerned nodal officers of states/UTs, representatives of the user hospitals and technical teams of the manufacturers in order to address any technical issues in real time, the statement said.
Dedicated e-mail addresses of these manufacturers have also been shared with the states and UTs, it added. —PTI