INDIA. Mumbai: The medical supplies including 3,800 portable oxygen concentrators and 300,000 N95 masks donated by Indians abroad were brought in by two flights and delivered to Mumbai-based Tata Memorial Centre(TMC) on Sunday.
The first consignment carrying 81,000 kgs of medical equipment was brought by a FedEx 777 cargo plane to Mumbai and a few hours later, an Air India passenger plane landed in Delhi with an additional 400 concentrators.
TMC is a tertiary cancer centre under the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India, which sees up to 100,000 new cancer cases in a year. Two-thirds of its patients are treated at a highly subsidized rate or completely free of charge.
Since the first wave of the pandemic, TMC has been a leader in India’s COVID-19 response. In June 2020, TMC partnered with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Maharashtra government and helped set up an ad-hoc, 518 bed and 10 ICU bed COVID-19 facility at the NSCI Dome, Worli in south-central Mumbai.
Throughout the pandemic, TMC has been responsible for protecting cancer patients who are far more susceptible to an adverse event from COVID-19 than others. The risk of untreated cancer looms large as it can be more fatal than the virus. All seven TMC centres across India—Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Sangrur(Punjab), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Guwahati(Assam), Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), and Muzaffarpur (Uttar Pradesh) —have continued cancer care throughout the pandemic. These centres managed to treat over 80,000 patients with cancer despite a raging pandemic. In addition, over 2000 patients with cancer and COVID-19 were treated in the various TMC centres.
TMC, besides providing life-saving services, is also sourcing and allocating medical equipment for over 200 hospitals across India that are part of the National Cancer Grid (NCG). TMC Director Dr. Rajendra Badwe said that “We have the singular focus of getting these units to the hospitals throughout India so that many can breathe well. This expedient and organized response to the pandemic is fitting with TMC’s role as an 80-year-old institution focused on delivering quality care to all, including the most vulnerable and underserved in the country”.
As soon as the second wave hit, TMC’s team of experts drew on this experience to identify lightweight, portable, high-flow oxygen concentrators that would have the maximum impact in saving lives, especially in hospitals that don’t have oxygen pipelines.
TMC’s Deputy Director of Epidemiology Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, who was looking after the NSCI COVID-19 centre, said that the second wave of the pandemic seems to be related to a new variant that is affecting the lungs of young people, leading to a sharp rise in death among that population. One of the important factors leading to mortality is the lack of ICU beds, lifesaving drugs, and oxygen. Portable oxygen concentrators help decongest ICUs and oxygen beds for truly needy patients by offering home support for patients with mild illness, allowing recovering patients to continue care at home, and supporting patients that are waiting hours or days for a hospital bed.
When asked how TMC has been able to respond so effectively to the recent shortage in oxygen supply, Dr. Badwe said that “ Besides local industry stepping up production of medical grade oxygen, philanthropists like Tata Trusts and other NGO’s in India are helping in procuring large oxygenators. I am much heartened by the way Indians abroad responded to the carrion call and extended hands in support”.
Consolidating efforts at TMC along with Dr. Badwe are TMC Director Dr. C S Pramesh and Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi. Dr. Pramesh, who is also the Coordinator of the NCG said that “We are collecting requests for equipment and consumables from hospitals across the NCG and mapping the current incidence of COVID-19 infections to determine where the greatest needs are and prioritizing government and charitable organizations to finalize the allocation of oxygen concentrators”.
The beneficiaries of the National Cancer Grid
Maharashtra: B.K.L. Walawalkar Hospital, Diagnostic And Research Centre, Ratnagiri; Samarth Cancer, laparoscopy and maternity Hospital. Dhule; Sahyadri Hospitals ltd, Pune, Mumbai, and Navi Mumbai: Tata Memorial Hospital, ACTREC, KEM Hospital, BARC Hospital, Sion Hospital, Sir J.J. Group of Hospitals, CIDCO COVID-19 facility, Sub District Hospital Panvel, Panvel, Covid Hospital, Kalamboli, Pramod Mahajan Covid hospital, Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation, INHS Ashvini, and Kailash Kher Foundation.
Punjab: Government of Punjab, Administration of Chandigarh, Christian Medical College Ludhiana, HBCH, Sangrur, Uttar Pradesh: HBCH & MPMMCC Varanasi; District Hospital Varanasi, SPHEEHA, Agra; Kamla Nehru Hospital Allahabad, Bihar: Government of Bihar, Patna; Savera Hospital, Patna; HBCHRC Muzaffarpur, New Delhi: Can Support, Odisha Positive, Madhya Pradesh: Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, Gwalior; Padhar Hospital; Shri Aurobindo Institute of Medical Science Indore, Vidya Cancer Hospital.
Assam: Govt of Assam, BBCI Guwahati, Cachar Cancer Centre, Silchar, Mizoram: State Cancer Institute, Aizawl, West Bengal: Saroj Gupta Cancer Centre, Kolkata, Andhra Pradesh – Vishakhapatnam Municipal Commission, HBCHRC, Vizag.
Karnataka: Sir Devaraj Urs Medical College; Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Center; Narayana Cancer Centre: R B Patil Hospital, Hubli; Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bengaluru; AarogyaSeva, Bangalore; Taluk Health Office and Hospital (Hanger and Ramapura); Victoria Hospital; Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS), Yenepoya Medical College.
Gujarat: The Gujarat Cancer & Research Institute, Ahmedabad; Kothari Onco Surgical Hospital; HCG Cancer Center Ahmedabad, Rajasthan: S.M.S. Hospital, Jaipur; Shalby Hospitals Jaipur; Sri Ram Cancer Center, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College Hospital, Jaipur. Kerala: Malabar Cancer Center; St. Gregorios Medical Mission Multispecialty Hospital; Believers Church Medical College Hospital and Tamil Nadu: CMC Vellore; GKNM Hospital.