Red Cross plans to build an emergency oxygen-generating plant

Published May 5, 2021, 2:02 PM

by Mario Casayuran

With medical oxygen needed not only for treatment of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) but also of pneumonia, one of the world’s leading causes of death, Senator Richard J. Gordon is planning to build an emergency oxygen-generating plant in the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

Speaking before the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), Gordon, PRC chairman and CEO, explained that with the high number of COVID cases in Metro Manila which continue to overwhelm hospitals, some unscrupulous suppliers are already taking advantage by increasing the price of medical oxygen.

“I am thinking in the Red Cross to build one (oxygen plant) para ‘yung mga de-tubo makakakuha sila sa Red Cross ng mas murang oxygen dahil tumaas na ‘yan, dati P6,000 ngayon P13,000 umabot pa ng P25,000 a few weeks ago (they can buy cheaper oxygen whose price tag must not go up. Before, it costs P6,000. Now, it is P13,000, sometimes reaching P25,000 a few weeks ago). That is not right. ‘Pag ikaw nagsasamantala sa mga kababayan mo, hindi ka aabot sa paroroonan mo (You will not succeed in life if you take advantage of your fellowman),” he said.

Gordon commended former Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell Ubial, who now heads PRC’s molecular laboratories, for having the vision to ensure that 24 hospitals in Mindanao had emergency oxygen-generating plants during her stint as head of the Department of Health.

“That is vision; that is foresight. Palaging kulang tayo sa vision (We always lack vision). Nangyari na sa atin sa (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) SARS, dapat nagkaroon na tayo ng emergency pandemic preparation (We experienced this during the SARS). Dapat lahat ng mga ospital natin may oxygen. (All hospitals must have oxygen).Tingnan niyo ang nangyayari sa India, nagkakagulo, walang oxygen (What at what is happening now to India, no oxygen),” he stressed.

Over the past few weeks, many breathless COVID-19 patients have died due to the unavailability of medical oxygen in hospitals in some states in India.

The Asian country is now battling a second wave of COVID-19, which is far more damaging than the first wave, recording as high as 401,993 new cases and more than 3,000 deaths a day.

The surge in infections has overwhelmed hospitals, morgues and crematoriums and left families scrambling for scarce medicines and oxygen.