Senator as well as Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Richard Gordon voiced concerns over the growing cost of medical oxygen amidst the on-going Covid19 pandemic and is considering the construction of a PRC-owned oxygen-generating plant.
Medical oxygen is an essential component in severe Covid19, and pneumonia treatment and with cases continuing to surge in the country, the demand for the aforementioned component has risen.
In a statement made before the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), Gordon mentioned how some medical supply vendors have been sky-rocketing prices from P6,000 to as high as P25,000 in recent weeks.
This increase, according to the senator, was clearly an act of selfish exploitation as hospitals remain overwhelmed by the sheer number of Covid19 cases on a daily basis thus feeding the exponentially growing demand for medical oxygen.
Gordon further spoke about how former Department of Health (DOH) secretary Paulyn Ubial, during her term, ensured that 24 hospitals in Mindanao had their own emergency oxygen-generating plants.
Ubial, who is now head of the PRC’s molecular laboratories, had the proper foresight to put emergency pandemic contingencies in place, according to Gordon, who also stated that in general authorities usually lack the vision to be so pro-active.
“…We always lack vision. It has happened to us with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), we should have had emergency pandemic preparation. All our hospitals should have oxygen. Look at what is happening in India, chaos, no oxygen,” he said.
India has been facing a violent surge in Covid19 infection throughout the past weeks, with some dying from a lack of oxygen in treatment centers, as a more easily spread variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was identified in the country.
The first two cases of said variant was recently detected in the Philippines from two Filipino seafarers that returned from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, last month.
Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler