Amidst reports of ventilators procured through PM Cares Fund were lying unused or leased out to private firms in several states, Prime Minister Modi has asked for an immediate audit of the installation, operation of ventilators provided by the central government.
According to a press release by the Prime Minister’s Office, PM Modi asked for an immediate audit of the ventilators given to the state governments at a high-level meeting on Saturday.
“The Prime Minister took serious note of some reports about ventilators lying unutilized in storage in some states and directed that an immediate audit of installation and operation of ventilators provided by the Central Government should be carried out” the official statement said. The PM also added that refresher training for properly operating ventilators should be provided to healthcare workers if necessary.
The prime minister gave the directives during a high-level meeting held today to discuss the Covid-19 and vaccination related situation in the country.
During the meeting, the PM said that localised containment strategies are the need of the hour specially for states where positivity rate in districts is high. The Prime Minister instructed that testing needs to be scaled up further, with use of both RT PCR and Rapid Tests, especially in areas with high test positivity rates. PM Modi said that states should be encouraged to report their numbers transparently without any pressure of high numbers showing adversely on their efforts.
The PM also asked for augmentation of healthcare resources in rural areas to focus on door to door testing & surveillance. He also spoke about empowering ASHA & Anganwadi workers with all necessary tools. He asked for guidelines to be made available in easy language along with illustrations for home isolation and treatment in rural areas.
The Prime Minister directed that a distribution plan for ensuring oxygen supply in rural areas should be worked out, including through provision of Oxygen Concentrators. The Prime Minister added that necessary training should be provided to health workers in the operation of such equipment, and power supply should be ensured for smooth operation of such medical devices.
1500 ventilators lying unused in Rajasthan, state government leasing out ventilators to private hospital to earn hefty profits
PM Modi’s directives to carry out an immediate audit of ventilators given by the Centre came in the wake of news reports from Rajasthan where a state-run hospital had leased out 20 of its ventilators to a private hospital, citing ‘abundance or non-usage. Not only this, the report mentioned that the unused ventilators were being rented out for exorbitant rates, the burden of which was inevitably carried by the unsuspecting and desperate patients.
As per reports, Bharatpur’s Rai Bahadur Hospital had leased out 20 of its ventilators provided by the PM Cares Fund to Jindal private hospital, citing ‘non-usage of the machine. The report comes at a time when the coronavirus outbreak is galloping across the country, leading to rising demand for life-support machines. The development exposes Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government that allowed renting out ventilators that were procured from PM Cares Fund to the private hospitals.
Disgruntled by the state government’s move to lease out ventilators when the cases have been on the rise, one of the aggrieved kin while speaking to Republic TV said: “About 40 ventilators were given to the state by the PM-CARES fund. I have been asking the hospital administration for the last 2 months as to where have they installed the ventilators, but they have no answers to my questions. Jindal Hospital, which has always been in controversy, was given 10 ventilators by the hospital administration. The collector justified the decision by saying that the ventilators were faulty, but they were not. Jindal hospital has been charging Rs 35,000-40,000 for these ventilators.”
On the other hand, Rai Bahadur Hospital administrator unabashedly defended the institute’s move to lease out ventilators to the Jindal Hospital. He said, “We had earmarked 20 ventilators for non-COVID ICU wards, while the other 20 were kept for COVID ICU wards. According to our oxygen point availability and caseload, we were not utilising 20 ventilators. Therefore, we took a conscious decision of renting it out a private hospital.”
Not just the hospital administration, but even the Rajasthan state government has brazened out its stand on shamelessly leasing the ventilators procured from the Central government fund. State transport minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas defended the move saying, In Bharatpur, they have rented the ventilators. They have rented them not given them for free. They had extra ventilators which they rented as private hospitals are also treating the patients of COVID-19.”
Earlier this month, a report published in Dainik Bhaskar stated that 1500 ventilators received by the Rajasthan State government from the Centre have been lying unused and unopened for the last 10 months, while 230 of them were found to be faulty. Even though the state was hit by a ferocious second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, the state had inexplicably decided to not make use of the ventilators that were in its possession.
Reports of ventilators provided under PMCares lying unused had emerged from several other states also, including UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhatissgarh etc states. In Punjab, 251 ventilators purchased under PM Cares Fund have remained uninstalled.