Initiative: Improving Last Mile Access to Oxygen and Life-Saving Equipment
Domain: Health, Supply Chain Management
During the second wave of COVID-19, hospitals across India experienced oxygen shortages. Oxygen demand is unpredictable, varies by the hour for each patient and is far outstripping supply. Few suppliers hold all bargaining power and are charging prodigious amounts for oxygen related equipment. There is an uneven distribution of medical oxygen production capacity across Indian states. Lack of sufficient storage and transportation infrastructure for medical oxygen combined with exponentially increasing cost of logistics are leading to massive delays in oxygen distribution, thereby increasing COVID-19 mortality. Lead times to set up new oxygen manufacturing plants or expand existing ones are extremely high, with inadequate skilled labour to support operations. All these factors lead to little to no access to life-saving medical oxygen in small hospitals and rural areas. Government response falls short due to extremely high information asymmetry on demand, supply, allocation and use of medical oxygen and related equipment.
This impact canvas is mobilizing key stakeholders across India who
(i) undertake emergency response by aggregating demand for oxygen-related equipment (concentrators, cylinders, etc) across hospitals, NGOs and governments, connecting them to verified suppliers for timely deployment and reducing information asymmetry.
(ii) provide last-mile guidelines, protocols, training material and best practices around using and renting oxygen-related equipment.
(iii) undertake R&D to optimize production capacities, use and deployment of oxygen plants, and identify scalable product and systemic innovations in medical oxygen production and/or distribution
(iv) rapidly test and deploy long-term solutions to improve oxygen access, especially for small hospitals (including IOT-based oxygen equipment deployment and tracking, labourforce skilling, etc.)