India is setting a world record for viral infections and deaths every day. The ongoing oxygen crisis in the country is now big international news.
Of the 28 states in India, only Kerala has no oxygen crisis. Not only that, at the moment they have 5-6 hundred tons of oxygen stored. While the rest of India is crying out for oxygen, it is important to know why there is no oxygen crisis only in Kerala for the sake of the future. It is also important for Bangladesh to understand the ‘Kerala model’.
The situation was different just two years ago. Oxygen had to be brought from neighboring states. The Corona crisis has changed this situation.
Kerala has more oxygen production centers than many other countries
Kerala is the 22nd largest state in India. Only 3% of India’s population lives here. But this small state is far ahead in many of the things that are essential for civic security. For the past decade, Kerala has been making real progress in health, education, etc., when the whole of India is intoxicated with the so-called ‘Gujarat economic model’. The biggest example of this is the oxygen surplus. The state now needs an average of 80 to 100 metric tons of oxygen per day. They have a production capacity of more than 200 metric tons. This small state of India has five centers of oxygen production, which is more than the capacity of many countries in South Asia.
A few administrative steps have ensured their safe status today. Since the onset of the epidemic in March last year, the state has been under constant surveillance by government and non-government organizations for potential oxygen demand. The state health department had earlier surveyed what the crisis would look like in the aftermath of the epidemic. The Kerala health department conducts the surveillance using centrally controlled state institutions. They only put some locally selected manpower in those companies.
Kerala has been decentralizing its oxygen production system since March last year. Even if there is a problem in a production center, there is an alternative and no monopoly is created. Besides, the hospital pays special attention to the production of oxygen in the hospital instead of oxygen. The Kerala administration’s thinking during Kovid’s time was not limited to industry and economy. The health sector was the focus of the government.
New production center to prevent monopoly
The communist state of Kerala. But there is huge oxygen production in the private sector. The state government is strictly monitoring only demand, production and supply. To reduce monopoly, another new oxygen production plant was set up in the state in October. As a result, where 99 metric tons of oxygen was produced last April, this year it is 219 metric tons.
Since Kerala is a non-BJP-ruled state, there is also conservatism in the allocation of state funds for them. To deal with the situation, the state government has asked some hospitals to connect oxygen pipelines to medical beds with the help of the public. Some hospitals were able to do the job. This greatly reduces the hassle of transporting oxygen. Kerala is now providing regular oxygen to at least three states despite meeting its own needs through such measures.
Kerala has also set an example in vaccination. Around 7.5 per cent is being wasted in the vaccination process across India. This wastage is mainly due to shortage of trained manpower. It has been calculated that everyone in 1-2 states could have been vaccinated due to the waste. Vaccine wastage is low in a few states, including Kerala and West Bengal. In Kerala it is almost zero. The reason for this success in Kerala is that in the past the state had a trained manpower due to various immunization programs.
Mass donations for vaccines
Vavar has a quota for vaccine distribution. There is also a gap between vaccine production and demand. In the new policy, the Center has said that states can buy vaccines and arrange for vaccinations if they want. Vaccine manufacturers in the country will release half of their products on the open market. Especially those under the age of 45 have to buy vaccines from the market. But the Kerala government says it wants to vaccinate everyone for free. If this is to be done, then this state needs at least Rs 1,300 crore. The Kerala government has called for a mass donation program to keep the vaccination program going. In India, only they have taken this fancy initiative. Lots of people in Kerala live abroad. They are responding positively to the call of the masses. In the first two days of the announcement, the people of this state at home and abroad have deposited about two crore rupees in the fund of the Chief Minister. The Kerala government wants to increase the range of the virus by buying vaccines from the market with the money received in this way.
The power of Kerala is its politics
The development philosophy of the Kerala government is at the root of such initiatives in the health sector. While the ‘Gujarat model’ focuses primarily on GDP and growth and creates billionaires, the Kerala government has year-on-year focused on human resource development. In the midst of the current wave of epidemics, the state has begun preparations for the next wave.
The reason for such public health warnings in Kerala is that the people of the state are very politically aware. There are very active local governments from village to town. Workers in both the ruling Communist Party and the opposition Congress, as well as the general public in the state, are very vigilant about health, education and other civic amenities. This is the main reason why all the governments of the state have to be active in the issues of civic interest instead of pleasant political rhetoric. Kerala’s success in oxygen and vaccines is a source of pride in the politics of this state.