In a report, the parliamentary standing committee on Health and Family Welfare requested that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare investigate the Covid fatalities caused by a lack of oxygen and compensate the victims’ relatives.
“The Committee is disappointed at this utter ignorance by the Government and strongly recommends the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to examine the number of deaths due to oxygen shortage especially during the second wave of Covid,” the panel headed SP member Ram Gopal Yadav said in its report.
“The Ministry, in coordination with the States, must audit the deaths due to oxygen shortage and enable robust documentation of the covid deaths that will in fact generate the responsive and responsible sense of government and cautious formulation of policy and combat situational health care emergency,” reads the committee report.
The Committee stated that it wants greater openness and accountability from government entities. According to the Ministry, the oxygen-stricken Covid fatalities must be thoroughly investigated and suitable compensation must be provided to the deceased’ relatives.
“There were several instances of families of patients pleading for oxygen and waiting in queues for oxygen cylinders. Media relayed stories of hospitals running out of oxygen and making desperate appeals when hospitals were reportedly left with only few hours of oxygen supply. In April, 2021, the Delhi High court slammed the Delhi Government for alleged mismanagement in distribution of medical oxygen. The High Court in May, 2021 also asked the Central Government to divert the unutilized tankers of oxygen to Delhi from States where the Covid-19 situation was improving.”
Previously, the Union Health Ministry requested states/UTs over confirmed deaths due to oxygen shortage during the second wave, and the response was no deaths from 20 states/UTs. Now, the committee has stated that the ministry should coordinate with the states and audit the deaths due to oxygen shortage.
“The Ministry, in coordination with the States, must audit the deaths due to oxygen shortage and enable robust documentation of the covid deaths that will infact generate the responsive and responsible sense of government and cautious formulation of policy and combat situational health care emergency,” said the panel in its report.