South Cotabato to buy more oxygen tanks for hospitals

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 14 October) – South Cotabato province is planning to acquire additional oxygen tanks and other equipment to address the needs of local government-run hospitals that are catering to COVID-19 patients.

Rolly Doane Aquino, head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said on Thursday they are considering using the province’s Quick Response Fund (QRF) for such purchase.

He said they already communicated with the Integrated Provincial Health Office regarding the equipment and supplies they need, including oxygen tanks, to enhance the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal City. Photo courtesy of Google Street View

The province has standby QRF of over P30 million that can be used for calamity response, including the pandemic, he said.

“As of now, our oxygen tanks are not sufficient and we have to use our available funds to make sure that we will not face a shortage,” Aquino said in a virtual press briefing.

The provincial government has existing COVID-19 treatment centers at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal City, Polomolok Municipal Hospital, Norala District Hospital, and the Soccsksargen General Hospital in Surallah town.

Aquino admitted that the province faced problems with insufficient supplies of medical oxygen at the height of the COVID-19 surge last month.

He said the problem was mainly due to the limited number of oxygen cylinders or tanks available in the area.

South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. was able to arrange the prioritization of the province’s oxygen with the lone producer GenSan Industrial Compressed Gas Corporation based in Polomolok town, he said.

The governor’s family gave around P800,000 worth of medical oxygen supplies while the local government also received a donation of five oxygen concentrators worth P400,000.

Aside from the hospital equipment, Aquino said they are currently looking for additional funds to augment their relief operations for residents affected by COVID-19 and weather-related disasters.

Citing their projection, he said the P2 million approved recently by the provincial board for the relief goods might not be enough to sustain their operations until the end of the year.

He said they are considering realigning some funds intended for disaster training, which are mostly shelved for now due to the pandemic, and portions of the QRF.

Aquino said about 70 percent of the food or relief packs distributed by the provincial government since last year went to families affected by COVID-19.

“Some of our municipalities and barangays have been facing a shortage in their relief supplies for COVID-19 response and we are continuously addressing that,” he said. (MindaNews)