'Hyped Make in India': Amu-bags Passed of as Ventilators in Ahmedabad amid Soaring Covid-19 Cases

Weeks after ‘ventilators’ made at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital were fitted across several hospitals across the state handling coronavirus cases, it has been revealed that these were not exactly ventilators.

The ‘ventilators’ were inaugurated by chief minister Vijay Rupani on April 4 amid soaring cases of coronavirus in the state, with Gandhinagar being the worst affected. The Ahmedabad Mirror quoted a senior bureaucrat over the case of defaulting machines being passed off as ‘ventilators’.

After the inauguration of machines on April 4, CM Rupani had said that in view of the shortage of ventilators across the world, Gujarat’s ability to make them at much-reduced prices would be ‘path-breaking’ for the state.

The defaulting machines came to light after doctors at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital demanded more ventilators from the government despite having 230 Dhaman-1machines. A senior official termed them as Ambu-bag.

State Health principal secretary Jayanti Ravi said the ventilators, with the brand name ‘Dhaman-1’, supplied at a time when there is a huge demand for them due to the virus outbreak, will be upgraded by the manufacturing firm.

Ahmedabad Civil Hospital Medical Superintendent JV Modi had written to the managing director of Gandhinagar-based Gujarat Medical Services Corporation Limited (GMSCL) for 50 ‘high-end’ ICU ventilators for the 1,200-bed COVID-19 facility, the largest of its kind in the state.

The letter comes at a time when the hospital has been given 230 ‘Dhaman-1’ ventilators, which a doctor here said cannot be termed “high end”.

Quoting the head of the anaesthesia department of the BJ Medical College, affiliated to the Civil Hospital, Modi said, in the letter dated May 15, that they are not getting “desired result” from Dhaman-1 and AGVA ventilators (both indigenously produced) on COVID-19 patients.

“We have placed demand for 50 high-end ICU ventilators each for COVID Hospital and Kidney Hospital. With rising coronavirus cases, we need more number of ventilators, as per the demand received by head of anesthesia department,” Modi said.

Amid global shortage of high-end ventilators during the outbreak, Rajkot-based Jyoti CNC Automation had developed low-cost ventilators in just 10 days in early April, and offered 1,000 pieces free-of-cost to the state government under CSR.

These ventilators were supplied to government hospitals across the state to meet rising demand, Principal Secretary (Health), Jayanti Ravi said.

“The ventilator was tested and approved by Electronics and Quality Development Centre (EQDC). Our expert doctors also approved it,” Ravi said.

She said accessories like high-flow nasal canula, oxygen flow meter, circuits and humidifier would be incorporated in them to make them more effective, she said.

Civil Hospital Head of anesthesia Shailesh Shah said Dhaman-1 ventilator in its present form is not as good as what one would term a “high-end ventilator”.

“Luckily, until now, we used these ventilators on very few occasions, as high-end ventilators were available with us in enough numbers. Dhaman-1 is not a good replacement for high-end ventilators, but it can be used in dire emergency when you have nothing else at hand,” said Shah.

Over the past week, however, the number of coronavirus patients requiring ventilator support has been increasing at the hospital, and depending on Dhaman-1 units was not a good idea, he claimed.

“We had around 100 ventilators in a 150-bed ICU of COVID hospital. With increasing demand, we have managed to source around 45-47 high-end ventilators from other medical colleges in Gujarat.

“The problem is good quality ventilators are not available in the market. It is very difficult for us or for the government to procure such ventilators. In such a situation, we have to compromise with the lower version,” he said.

The issue attracted some hilarious reactions on Twitter with people accusing CM Rupani for favouring "selected companies".

Meanwhile, Ahmedabad district reported 8,420 coronavirus positive cases, with 524 having died of the infection. The number of active cases stands at 5,236.

With inputs from PTI