Several countries across the world vowed to deliver critical aid after the coronavirus pandemic crisis in India crossed the previous breaking point in April. Planes containing antiviral drugs, oxygen supplies, ventilators, and other aid equipment started arriving last week. Several photos shared on news websites, and social media platforms showed the unloading of huge parcels at New Delhi airport.
However, the administration faces problems for the last some days as the cargo placed at the airport hangars because the hospitals on the ground pleaded for many provisions. Still, local officials and medical workers are reporting the same overwhelming shortages that stressed the country’s health care system for weeks now – raising concerns, even among the foreign donor countries, of where the aid is going.
According to the consultation transcript, in a United States State Department press briefing last Friday, a newsperson asked where the American aid was, demanding accountability for American taxpayers’ money. Additionally, the reporter asked about the phenomenon of checking the distribution of support that the foreign donors send.
The article states: “There are a number of feasible reasons for the delay: unnecessary bureaucracy, human error, or time-consuming protocol.” I would sum it up as “ GOI is a one-man-show” https://t.co/Xmnuu8fHZP
— Rian (@Lapogrian) May 6, 2021
The Health Ministry of India stated that the administration rejected the accusation of any delay on Tuesday. Further, the government installed an efficient mechanism for allocating aid. Almost four million donated items, spanning twenty-four categories, are already distributed to thirty-eight health care facilities all over the country.
The Central Government sent Delegations for clarity of Supplies
However, several local and state authorities claim there has been little to not no announcement from the federal government on how or when they would receive aid. Health Minister of Rajasthan state said on Tuesday that the administration sent delegations to the administration for clarity on supplies of drugs, oxygen, and vaccination drive but not spoken to in clarity from the Union Government. Regarding foreign aid and import, no supply or information details shared with the national government.
Sharma added that the federal administration kept states in the dark during the coronavirus crisis, and he called for a more transparent environment. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry said that it previously distributed aid to two major hospitals in Rajasthan, in the cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur.
There are several possible reasons for the delay in distributing donations: time-consuming protocol, bureaucracy, or human error. However, to those reasons on the ground, such possible clarifications matter little; all they want is for the administration to take instant action and get the relief packages to their Intensive Care Unit wards, where thousands of Indians are dying every day.
According to the Health Ministry, India reported around 382,315 new COVID-19 cases and almost 3780 deaths on Wednesday. The nation now recorded over 20.6M cases since the COVID-19 outbreak started. Moreover, the shortages of oxygen precisely pronounced in Delhi, which doesn’t produce its own oxygen and depends on the federal government to send allocations from various states and manufacturers.
The director of Batra hospital in New Delhi, Dr. S.C.L. Gupta, says that the government has to provide us oxygen. Additionally, on Saturday, almost twelve patients, including a doctor, expired at Batra Hospital after the ICU ran out of oxygen.
A Logistical Nightmare in Indian Hospitals
India media highlighted one issue that the government didn’t have protocols in place before receiving the donations and had to cobble together guidelines on coordination and allocation instantly. Furthermore, the Health Ministry said that the government took 7 days to create a mechanism to allocate supplies to states on Tuesday. They started working on the plan on 26th April and only issued their SOPs – guidelines on how to distribute donations – on 2nd May.
In those 7 days, over twenty-three thousand Indian nationals died of coronavirus. Even with the SOP issued, the process of distributing aid is complex, with room for additional delay. The Indian red Cross Society received the aid once it arrives in India, which works thoroughly with the administration. The Red Cross is working 24/7 with customs to approve the aid goods to fast track and clear the items on arrival.
After the clearance, the goods handed to the ministry and HLL Lifecare, the government-owned health care product producer, which handles the transportation of donations to its final destination, however, at present, it is a huge logistical responsibility because the materials from other countries are coming in different numbers, different times and specifications.
The ministry further said that several other problems arise in different cases; the number or type of aid supplies does not match the abroad donor’s inventory list. According to the release, authorities have to waste valuable time unification at the airport while the donations sit idle. After updating the paperwork with accurate details, can the administration move forward with the distribution?
Worried Patients wait for Oxygen
As the administration hikes to stockpiled aid to desperate Indian states, it also works to surge domestic oxygen production. And at every turn, the federal government claimed that they have enough supplies to meet the demands of states. In addition, a spokesperson of the Health Ministry stated at a news conference on Monday that the everyday oxygen production in India was almost 6283 tons (5700 metric tons) on 1st August 2020, which now increased to nearly 9920 tons (nine thousand metric tons).
Last month, the spokesman of the ministry again declared enough oxygen supplies available in the country. On the other side, officials, doctors, and patients tell a very different story. In a hospital in Meerut, one family member worked around the clock to care for their fifty-five-year-old mother in the ICU. Additionally, the family told CNN that she had been admitted to the hospital for 6 days before shifting to a ventilator, and the hospital authorities told them to bring their own cylinder.
In Delhi, the situation worsened severely that the Supreme Court of India ordered the federal government to address the oxygen shortages there by the Monday end. Similar hearings took place in the Delhi High Court of India. According to CNN affiliate CNN-News18, the high court told the Indian central government that enough is enough.