UNICEF supported oxygen plant saving lives in Gujarat

Oxygen therapy is a critical part of UNICEF’s COVID-19 surge response and is considered the most effective treatment of COVID-19

Dr. Narayan Gaonkar, Health Specialist, UNICEF Gujarat Field Office
An oxygen generation plant, coloured white with cables and leads
25 June 2021

There have been instances where COVID-19 patients have died due to lack of timely oxygen supply. The second wave of COVID-19 tested the capacity of India's health system in multiple ways as it spread from urban to rural areas. In Gujarat there were shortages of oxygen beds, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and other essential commodities. The increase in cases and new variants of COVID-19 meant timely availability of oxygen was crucial. 

An uninterrupted supply of oxygen essential to bring COVID-19 linked mortality rates under control. It was against this background that UNICEF initiated procurement of Oxygen Generation plants (OGP) to support government hospitals across India, including one in Jamnagar, a district in the south west of Gujarat.

People suffering from breathing difficulty receive oxygen assistance

How do Oxygen Generation Plants work and are they just for COVID-19?

Oxygen Generation Plants (OGPs) cater to a wide range of needs in a hospital, including operating theatres, ICUs and neonatal units. There is a constant high demand for oxygen in hospitals and this adds to the huge cost of running any hospital.

An OGP produces medical oxygen on site reducing the need to source oxygen cylinders and therefore reducing costs. The installation of UNICEF supported OGPs to hospitals in Jamnagar has not only enabled them to meet the increased emergency need for COVID-19 care, but longer term it will enable the hospitals to allocate their resources to upgrading other hospital facilities, thereby strengthening the health care system.

In 2020 Gujarat invested in hospital preparedness for COVID-19. While bigger cities like Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara have good health infrastructure smaller cities like Jamnagar had a huge increase in the need for oxygen. As the pandemic spread to rural areas with limited health infrastructure, people started moving towards cities like Jamnagar. The Guru Govind Singh Government Hospital, which includes MP Shah Medical College, in Jamnagar became a hub for COVID-19 care for people from five districts in the western region Gujarat.

Oxygen is lifesaving for critical COVID-19 patients and was in short supply during the pandemic.  UNICEF is working closely with the government on the COVID-19 response and COVID-19 vaccination. We received a request from the state government to set up an oxygen generation plant.  We leveraged CSR funds from a partner to set up the much needed oxygen generation plant at Guru Govind Singh Government Hospital in Jamangar to quickly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Laxmi Bhawani, Chief of UNICEF Gujarat Field Office
UNICEF health and supply team members working together to close a procurement process.

OGPs strengthening the health system    

A lot of work was required prior to the installation of the OGP. An engineer supported by UNICEF visited the site and provided technical inputs for designing the space for the OGP and guidance for the civil work that had to be undertaken. A site readiness checklist was prepared and a meeting  conducted. After the on-site readiness assessment and a virtual tour facilitated by UNICEF, a certification was provided by the hospital authorities.

Guru Govind Singh government hospital Dean and Medical Superintendents, an official from the district administration, engineers and UNICEF were all present during the OGP installation process. 

“We sincerely thank UNICEF, the District Administration Jamnagar, and donors for the timely supply of the much needed OGP to our medical college hospital to improve the availability of life saving oxygen for COVID-19 patients. This support will help us in addressing the critical gaps in oxygen therapy,” Dr Nandini Desai, Dean MP Shah Medical College said.

The OGP components were dispatched and arrived in Jamnagar on 30 May 2021 following a pre-dispatch inspection. The installation of the plant was initiated the same day. After the dry run was conducted, the OGP became operational from 1 June 2021 supplying oxygen to critical areas of the hospital. The OGP which has an oxygen generation capacity of 280 liters per minute, will supply oxygen to the COVID-19 ward and ICUs. It will also help supply more oxygen to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, the emergency ward, operation theaters and all other oxygen requirements as COVID-19 patients decline.

The plant will be managed by existing hospital staff after the two year warranty period and recurring costs will be managed by the government. This will strengthen the health system longer term in a sustainable manner.

Monitoring continuity of health services
OGP installation

Oxygen the lifesaving drug, was much needed more than ever before. Being a referral teaching hospital, a huge number of people were treated by our team. Thanks to UNICEF for helping us with the oxygen therapy.  It's wonderful gesture!

Dr. Maulik Shah, Associate Professor Pediatrics, MP Shah Medical College, Jamnagar

OGP save lives. Thank you, donors, for your support

UNICEF relies on voluntary contributions and thanks to the generous contribution of our donors and partners we were able to response to the COVID-19 and deliver lifesaving supplies including OGPs and services where the need was the greatest.

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