Indian ventilators will be geo-tagged to prevent misuse: Health ministry
“We can track the location of each of these devices as each ventilator is geo-tagged. We will get to know in real-time if a ventilator is changing location,” said Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan.Updated: Aug 06, 2020 02:30 IST
The indigenously manufactured ventilators are being embedded with Global Positioning System chips to track if their locations in hospitals change as part of efforts to prevent their misuse, the Union health ministry has said. The ministry has created a dashboard for tracking the real-time status of ventilators dispatched, delivered, and installed for monitoring and feedback.
“We can track the location of each of these devices as each ventilator is geo-tagged. We will get to know in real-time if a ventilator is changing location,” said Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan.
The government has constituted an empowered group to address issues and encourage the domestic industry to manufacture ventilators and ramp up their production.
Based on expert projections in March, the health ministry decided to procure about 60,000 ventilators for Covid-19 patients. About 18,000 ventilators have been so far supplied to states, central government hospitals, and Defence Research Development Organisation facilities. They have been installed in at least 700 hospitals across the country. Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) rolled out the first locally-made ventilator on May 30.
Officials said about 96% of the 60,000 ventilators being procured are indigenous and most of them have been sponsored by the PM CARES Fund established to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Of the 60,000 ventilators, 50,000 are being funded by PM CARES Fund which comes to about Rs 2,000 crore in monetary terms,” Bhushan said at a media briefing on Tuesday. “The Make in India [indigenous] ventilators have a share of more than 96% by volume and more than 90% by value.”
Just about 0.27% of total active Covid-19 cases are on a ventilator across the country, according to government data. “At any given time, not more than 1% of patients are sick enough to need ventilator support,” said Bhushan.
The ministry’s technical expert committee has come up with minimum essential specifications for the basic ventilators manufactured in India. All the procurements are made based on the committee’s recommendations.
Public sector BEL has manufactured 30,000 ventilators and Andhra Med-Tech Zone 13,500. The prices of locally-made ventilators range between Rs 1.5 and Rs 4 lakh per unit. Imported ventilators cost between Rs 10 and 20 lakh.
A critical care expert at a prominent government hospital said a ventilator is a complex machine with several features meant to perform specific functions. “It is not only about pumping in the air. There is much more to this machine. Having said that, it is better to have something to use in an emergency situation than nothing.”