Two C 130 aircraft of Republic of Singapore Airforce landed at Air Force Station Panagarh with 256 oxygen cylinders. The operation involved contactless off loading flight planning and other ground operations.. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi/Mumbai, May 9 : The Tata Memorial Centre, which provides life-saving service to cancer patients, is also sourcing and allocating medical equipment for over 200 hospitals across India that are part of the National Cancer Grid (NCG).

On Sunday, it received 81,000 kg of medical equipment including 3,800 portable oxygen concentrators along with 300,000 N95 masks for distribution to hospitals across India.

These are the third and fourth shipments that the Tata Memorial Centre has brought in over the past two weeks.

Centre's Director Rajendra Badwe said: "We have the singular focus of getting these units to the hospitals throughout India so that many can breathe well." The Tata Memorial Centre is a tertiary cancer centre under the Department of Atomic Energy, and sees up to 100,000 new cancer cases each year. Two-thirds of its patients are treated at a highly subsidised rate or completely free of charge.

National Cancer Grid's Coordinator, Dr Pramesh, said: "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 organisations to finalise the allocation (of oxygen concentrators)." Throughout the pandemic, the Tata Memorial Centre has been responsible for protecting cancer patients who are far more susceptible to an adverse event from Covid-19 than others. Adding to the risks that Covid-19 presents, the risk of untreated cancer looms large as it can be more fatal than the virus.

All seven of its centres across India -- at Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Sangrur, Varanasi, Guwahati, Vishakhapatnam and Muzaffarpur -- have continued cancer care throughout the pandemic. Together, they have managed to treat over 80,000 patients with cancer in spite of a raging pandemic. In addition, over 2,000 patients with cancer and Covid have been treated In June 2020, the Tata Memorial Centre partnered with the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation and the Maharashtra government to help set up an ad-hoc 518 bed and 10 ICU bed Covid-19 facility at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai.

As soon as the second wave hit, its 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.

Asked how they had been able to respond so effectively to the recent shortage in oxygen supply, Badwe said: "Besides local industry stepping up production of medical grade oxygen, philanthropists like Tata Trusts and other NGOs in India helping procure large oxygenators, we have had an overwhelming response globally, with Indian diaspora and medical community joining hands in support."

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