GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 18 Aug) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is planning to establish its own medical oxygen generating plant to ensure sufficient supplies for local hospitals amid the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Dr. Conrado Braña, the designated head of public hospitals in the province, said Wednesday studies are underway for the development of the facility in coordination with concerned stakeholders.
He said Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. has initially considered the project, which is deemed vital in the province’s COVID-19 response.
“We can include it in our next supplemental budget or in the budget for next year since we’re already preparing it,” he said in a press conference.
Braña, who is also the chief of the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital (SCPH), said both private and public hospitals in the province are currently facing problems with supplies of medical oxygen.
He said the prices per tank or cylinder, which has a standard capacity of 40 liters, have doubled since the onset of the pandemic last year.
Each cylinder of medical oxygen now costs P950, significantly increasing from the previous P400, he said.
Aside from the high demand due to the pandemic, he said the prices also increased due to the presence of third-party players or distributors.
On top of that, Braña said suppliers are currently requiring a deposit of P7,000 per cylinder supposedly to avoid possible hoarding by residents.
Braña said the governor instructed them to negotiate with the suppliers for the waiving of the deposit requirement or charges for the local government’s orders.
The SCPH alone, which hosts the province’s main COVID-19 treatment facility, utilizes 90 to 100 tanks of medical oxygen per day.
He said patients connected to high flow nasal cannulas could use up an entire cylinder in just 40 minutes and 17 to 20 tanks in a day.
“We really need to have our own [plant]. We can cope with our needs for now but the overall demand is continually increasing,” he said.
Aside from the SCPH, which is based in Koronadal City, the provincial government runs the municipal hospital in Polomolok town and the district hospital in Norala.
Braña said the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and this city have already put up their own medical oxygen generating plants and currently processing their licenses. (MindaNews)