We continue checking how Ukrainian hospitals provide oxygen support to patients with COVID-19.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in Ukraine more than 2 mln cases of COVID-19 have been detected, and almost 50,000 people have died from complications of the disease. This year, the peak incidence in the country was observed in April. Then laboratories recorded from 6,000 to 20,000 new cases of COVID-19 infection every day. Along with the increase in the total number of coronavirus cases, the number of cases of patient hospitalization, in particular, severe patients who needed oxygen therapy, also increased. It was extremely hard for the medical system to cope with this load: there were difficulties in supplying the necessary amounts of medical oxygen and consumables; some hospitals were overcrowded with infected people.
Due to the lack of available places in hospitals, not all patients received sufficient oxygen support, and people were discharged home even with low saturation. At the same time, the state does not provide oxygen concentrators to those who are forced to be treated at home. Therefore, patients look for them on their own.
Once again, volunteers came to the rescue. Over 1000 oxygen concentrators of the Svoi charitable foundation run from patient to patient. Corporation of Monsters charity foundation, Initiative E+, and others help Ukrainians with vital devices.
At the end of April this year the then head of the Ministry of Healthcare Maksym Stepanov stated that the ministry would purchase oxygen concentrators for primary level of healthcare; UAH 693 mln was allocated for them. The devices can be used by patients who have been discharged home after hospitalization, but may need oxygen therapy. So far, the question of how these concentrators will be given out and under what conditions remains unanswered.
Modern Oxygen Concentrator is a device that produces oxygen from the atmospheric air. It is used both in medical institutions and at home. Concentrator models differ significantly in their characteristics and, consequently, cost differently. We have identified the 5 most popular products in Prozorro:
- Oxygen concentrators of the Ukrainian brand “Biomed.”
Most often, procuring entities purchased the JAY-10 model, which in the system cost from UAH 30,000 to UAH 42,000. More powerful oxygen concentrators, JAY-10 (4.0), suppliers offered for UAH 110,000 – 150,000.
- Oxygen concentrators of another Ukrainian brand — “Viola” (their production is located in China).
In particular, the SZ-5AW model in Prozorro was sold for UAH 19,000–22,500.
- “Angel” oxygen concentrators (China)
- Oxygen concentrators “Centrox” (USA). These concentrators of the AS074-2 model in Prozorro cost UAH 700,000–888,000.
- Autonomous oxygen stations (oxygen concentrators complete with a central compressor station). Hospitals purchased them at a price ranging from UAH 2,1 mln to 3,4 mln.
How many oxygen concentrators have been bought through Prozorro since the beginning of the year?
According to our calculations, since January of last year, 40,651 oxygen concentrators worth UAH 1.9 bln have been purchased through Prozorro. Most of the devices were purchased in November 2020 – 7,800 items (19% of the total number) and December 2020 – 12,900 items (32% of the total number).
Demand for oxygen concentrators began to grow rapidly in October 2020, along with the autumn disease wave. Back then three times more concentrators than in September were bought, and the trend continued. But already at the beginning of 2021, the volume of orders decreased rapidly. For example, in January, Ukrainian procuring entities purchased only 186 concentrators. In March 2021, the next wave of procurement began which directly correlates with an increase in the number of patients.
We have collected procurement indicators by region: the total number of the purchased devices and their cost. At the same time, it should be noted that the price of one oxygen concentrator varies significantly depending on its characteristics. Therefore, we cannot state that procuring entities of one region overpay when spending more money on the same number of devices as their colleagues from another region. First of all, this may indicate that they purchased different types of oxygen concentrators.
For almost a year and a half, most oxygen concentrators have been purchased in the following oblasts:
- Kyiv — 4,771 items worth UAH 203.4 mln;
- Odesa — 3,854 items worth UAH 172.6 mln;
- Dnipropetrovsk — 3,489 items worth UAH 174.9 mln.
- Cherkasy — 3,393 items worth UAH 154.5 mln.
Fewer devices have been purchased in the following oblasts:
- Sumy — 574 items worth UAH 30.4 mln;
- Zhytomyr — 720 items worth UAH 36.9 mln;
- Volyn — 835 items worth UAH 40.5 mln.
According to statistics, the demand for concentrators is growing even when hospitals with their oxygen reserves cannot withstand the pressure of morbidity. And the chances of patients recovering with minimal complications depend on the timing of receiving care.
In addition, some MPs raise the question whether it is worth buying namely concentrators for hospitals. There is an alternative — autonomous oxygen stations. Unlike concentrators, each designed for one person, the stations produce larger volumes of air. It is much more difficult to calculate how much money has already been spent on such oxygen stations in Prozorro. The Verkhovna Rada even registered draft law on changes to the state budget which proposes to allocate UAH 800 mln for procurement, design, and installation of oxygen stations.
However, no matter what the MPs decide, we hope that under the new leadership, the approach to equipping hospitals with oxygen and everything necessary to fight the coronavirus in general will become more systematic and proactive.