An audit of COVID’s “Deaths Due To Oxygen Shortage” data is demanded by a parliamentary body

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An audit of COVID's "Deaths Due To Oxygen Shortage" data is demanded by a parliamentary body

A legislative committee has ordered the Union Health Ministry “examine deaths due to oxygen deprivation,” particularly during the Covid second wave, to ensure a complete recording of the fatalities.
The ministry’s “unfortunate denial” of COVID-19 fatalities caused by an oxygen shortage, the committee claimed, left it “disturbed.”

The panel stated that the ministry “must carefully review the oxygen-stricken Covid fatalities and guarantee that fair compensation is granted to the relatives of the dead.” The board also wanted more accountability and openness from governmental organizations.

In its 137th report, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health stated that the growing number of COVID positive cases had put tremendous strain on the healthcare system. The message was sent to Rajya Sabha on Monday.

The media often carried reports of hospitals running out of life-saving gas and making frantic requests when they were purportedly left with only a few hours’ supply. The study claimed several instances of patients’ relatives appealing for oxygen and queuing up for cylinders.

The committee said it had forewarned the administration about a potential shortage of oxygen cylinders and hospital supplies in its 123rd report.

The ministry claimed the nation was self-sufficient in oxygen and oxygen cylinders in its submission to the committee in 2020. Their phony claim was ruthlessly revealed during the second wave, the panel stated in its 137th report.

The government failed to manage the equitable allocation of oxygen across the states. In the face of soaring demand, it was unable to maintain a consistent supply of oxygen, the panel stated. This resulted in an unprecedented medical catastrophe.

The government’s inability to ensure a prompt response from the hospital system and inadequate logistical management, it said, spoke loudly about the complete anarchy in the government apparatus, particularly during the second wave.

The panel said that inadequate monitoring of the oxygen generating capacity and the availability of medical oxygen, oxygenated beds, and ventilator beds in hospitals further exacerbated the problem.

“The committee wonders why none of the 20 states and Union Territories that replied to the Union government’s request for information on Covid fatalities due to oxygen deprivation have reported a confirmed fatality due to oxygen scarcity,” it added.

It stated that it considers media reports that there were numerous fatalities owing to oxygen scarcity in hospitals, adding, “The committee is troubled at the sad denial of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding Covid deaths due to oxygen shortage in the country.” The parliamentary panel claimed that the fact alone demonstrates a lack of empathy in official jargon.

The panel found no clear rules for determining the deaths caused by an inadequate supply of oxygen.

The committee expressed anger at the government’s complete “ignorance,” saying that “oxygen deficiency is not listed as a cause of death in the medical records and majority of the fatalities were attributed to co-morbidities.”

According to the statement, “the ministry, working with the states, must audit the deaths caused by oxygen deprivation and enable robust documentation of the COVID deaths that will generate the responsive and responsible sense of government and cautious formulation of policy and combat situational health care emergency.”

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