On Friday, the Chief Secretary of J&K chaired a high-level meeting to review COVID-19 response. Among others and importantly too, he reviewed availability of medical oxygen. The government, as per the official handout, has approved the establishment of 36 oxygen generation plants to make J&K “self-sufficient in catering to the rising demand of oxygen.”
The Chief Secretary as per the communiqué also directed the deputy commissioners to ensure the “early establishment and functioning” of these plants under their respective jurisdictions.
The decision assumes significance as many parts of India including the national capital are literally gasping for the medical oxygen in order to save lives amid surge in covid-19 numbers. In fact, some hospitals in New Delhi had moved the High Court, which directed the central government to supply oxygen at “any cost.”
The second wave is proving to be more ferocious and brutal in spread and fatality. It is important that required health facilities are kept available in Jammu and Kashmir given the fact that patients and their families elsewhere in the J&K’s neighborhood are desperately looking for hospital beds, medicines and oxygen.
While the J & K government has taken a good step towards oxygen supply, the administration should also focus on availability of cylinders for home supplies as the situation may demand in the immediate future. It needs to also plug gaps regarding the problems of wastage and leakages in hospital pipelines that supply oxygen.
It needs to focus on vaccination also and ensure that all health workers, front line workers, and eligible citizens are vaccinated. The next phase of the vaccination for the 18-45 age group opens from May 1 and is expected to cover, as per official estimates, around 65 lakh people. The government needs to ensure success even as hesitancy remains. There is need for greater coordination among frontline workers of various departments including health, social welfare, school education, rural development, and housing and urban development for the success of the vaccine which according to some experts is a magic tool against the ravaging virus.
The purpose of vaccination is crucial and that is to achieve herd immunity in a population by ensuring threshold coverage so that the entire population is protected.
The government also needs to address the issue of black marketing of drugs considered to be vital in the fight against covid-19 and take serious action against unscrupulous people who tend to take advantage in such situations.