When the second wave of the Delta variant ravaged Nepal in April-May this year, hospitals ran out of oxygen and ICU beds. The international community rushed oxygen plants and ventilators, but many of the critical life-saving machines are lying idle in government hospitals around the country.
Besides the hundreds of donated ventilators, the government also bought the machines, but state-run hospitals do not have the anaesthesiologists trained to run it nor the critical care wards to put them in.
The district hospital in Sandhikharka of Arghakhanchi bought a ventilator six months ago, it has never been turned on even though there were critically-ill Covid-19 patients who needed respiratory support.
Even though the second wave appears to have subsided, the positivity rate among those being tested is still hovering at 10%, and there is a weekly rolling average of 320 patients in ICU and 120 in ventilators in government and private hospitals around the country.
“Only two days ago, we had a Covid patient who had to be put on a ventilator. But we had to send them to Butwal since we didn’t have anyone who knew how to use it,” says Rajendra GC, medical superintendent of the hospital.