Ventilators purchased under the PM Cares fund -- life-saving medical equipment desperately needed amid the skyrocketing Covid cases -- have been found defective, a few hospitals in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have complained. In others, the equipment is lying unused for want of people to operate them.
Among the first category is Bhopal's biggest government-run hospital -- the Hamidia Hospital, which even lost a Covid patient last week.
While the hospital had initially denied the patient's family's claim that the breakdown of the ventilator had led to the death, NDTV found that its officials have written to the hospital administration regarding the ventilators.
NDTV is also in possession of the doctors' letter to the superintendent, which says ventilators purchased under PM Cares are not working properly.
The doctors said the machines are not generating the required pressure and sometimes they turn off suddenly, which is very dangerous for the patients. It is difficult to manage critical patients and save their lives with these machines and so they need to be replaced, the letter said.
The state government, however, contended that there is nothing wrong with the machines.
Medical Education minister Vishwas Sarang said, "There is no such information that the ventilators from PM Relief Fund are bad. Thanks to our Prime Minister, we have worked to upgrade health services continuously in the country. The Centre has given such a large number of ventilators to save lives".
But ventilators in other parts of the state -- supplied to the government hospitals under the PM Cares fund -- are also throwing up glitches. In other hospitals, they are lying unused as there are no expert medical personnel to operate them.
In Sagar's Budelkhand Medical College, there are 72 ventilators but only five are being used in the Intensive Care Unit for Covid. The rest are lying unused. The Dean, Dr RA Verma, said, "We don't have expert doctors to operate them".
Shahdol Medical College received 24 ventilators from the government, but the hospital is not able to use them. "They are advanced machines. There are some operational issues in the ventilator, we have informed the company," said Dr Milind Shiralkar, the Dean of the hospital.
Tribal-dominated Alirajpur district hospital got four ventilators, two of them from the PM Cares funds, but has been unable to use any of them. Medical Officer Dr KC Gupta said, "We are unable to use them as we don't have trained people".
Dr Pradeep Mudia, CMHO, Katni, said: "Two ventilators have come from PM Cares fund, but they are yet to be installed by the company. We have written a letter to them".
Before March 2020, a total of 993 ventilators were available in Madhya Pradesh. The state has now got 1,205 ventilators from the Centre under PM Cares fund for over 1,11,223 Covid active patients in the state.
In Balod, located in neighbouring Chhattisgarh, the district hospital got six ventilators, but only two have been installed.
Chhattisgarh has claimed it has received 230 ventilators from the PM Cares fund. Sources said 58 of these are not working.
The health ministry has said around 2 lakh patients across the country are on ventilators, as many as 10 lakh patients are on oxygen support.