Former health minister Ram Janam Chaudhary and his wife admitted to Seti Provincial Hospital for Covid-19 treatment, could not get oxygen


Hospitals in Sudur Paschim province are facing severe shortage of oxygen cylinders amid surging Covid-19 cases and corresponding influx of patients that need oxygen support.

However, despite the severe lack of oxygen in the province, the stakeholders have stated that there is no possibility of immediate procurement of additional oxygen cylinders.

Dhangadhi-based Malika Oxygen Industry, the only oxygen production company in the province, is only capable of producing a maximum of 180 cylinders of oxygen every 20 hours. At the moment, the province has a daily demand of 500 cylinders.

In the past, oxygen used to be brought to the districts here from Nepalgunj, but with the rising need for oxygen throughout the country, Nepalgunj based oxygen industries are also supplying oxygen to Lumbini and Karnali provinces causing a sharp drop in the supply of oxygen to Sudur Paschim, which has huge demand and a very meagre supply.

According to Dr Hemraj Pandey, Medical Superintendent of Seti Provincial Hospital, the hospital has a daily demand of 100 cylinders per day. The hospital has a deal with the Malika Oxygen industry for the supply of oxygen at Rs 400 per cylinder which industries claim is below market price.

With the increasing demand for oxygen in the market at price above government hospitals, manufacteres have now been prioritising supply to private parties rather than government hospitals, stakeholders claim.

It has been reported that the lack of adjustment the per cylinder price over time has led to the drop in supply of oxygen to government hospitals.

According to a local Binaya Lama, oxygen is being sold at as much as Rs 40,000 per cylinder to 'private parties' in the province.

Owing to the shortage, Covid-19 patients and their relatives are being forced to procure oxygen cylinders from the black market at exorbitant prices.

Meanwhile, former Health Minister Ram Janam Chaudhary and his wife who were admitted to the Seti Provincial hospital due to Covid-19 related complications too have complained of not receiving oxygen in the hospital.

After his wife's condition deteriorated, the former minister requested the hospital management to ensure she gets oxygen support as prescribed. However, the hospital was unable to provide her with the supply and they eventually bought a cylinder from a private hospital, it has been learnt.

The former minister is now recovering, however, his wife's condition is still critical.