The Madhya Pradesh government told the High Court on Friday that 204 ventilators – life-saving medical equipment in desperately short supply during the peak of the second Covid wave – were kept as “back-up” in a storeroom even as the virus spread through the state.
It was responding to a notice from the High Court, which had taken suo motu cognisance of the Covid situation in Madhya Pradesh, which has recorded nearly eight lakh cases so far.
“204 ventilators were kept in the storeroom, which the government said was kept as backup. 42 ventilators under PM CARES are in Bhopal and 20 in Indore, which were not used in the second wave of coronavirus,” senior lawyer Naman Nagrath, the court’s amicus curiae, said.
77 ventilators in Bhopal – 42 bought with PM CARES funds and 35 in district hospitals – were either unused, unplugged or there were no qualified personnel to operate the device, the court was told.
“It is a matter of concern that hundreds of ventilators were lying unused in storerooms, while thousands of patients died,” the court was also told.
In May NDTV reported that ventilators purchased with PM CARES funds for hospitals in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were either defective or left unused for want of people to operate them.
The situation was tragic enough that Bhopal’s biggest government-run medical facility – the Hamidia Hospital – lost a Covid patient.
The hospital initially denied claims the breakdown of the ventilator led to the death, but NDTV found that its officials had written to the hospital administration regarding the ventilators.
The state, however, insisted there was nothing wrong with the machines.
However, NDTV found that ventilators in other parts of the state – also supplied to government hospitals under PM CARES – were also throwing up glitches, or were unused.
In Sagar’s Budelkhand Medical College, for example, there were 72 devices but only five in use.
Details about the ventilators, CT scan machines at state-run hospitals and action taken against private hospitals charging outrageous treatment fees were part of the report submitted today.
The report said CT scan machines were only available at 14 district-level hospitals.
The report also outlined the state’s preparations for the third wave of infections.