IGL should have been able to anticipate the demand?Friday, September 03, 2021
The current shortage of oxygen in our nation's hospitals is an unnecessary tragedy and Industrial Gases Limited (IGL) as sole local producer of medical-grade oxygen with monopoly of distribution to the health sector has been found naked.
In 2020, IGL General Manager Peter Graham announced that the company was aware of the global oxygen crisis due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and “with the advent of COVID-19, it has been every man for himself, as they say. There was a point where nobody was exporting medical oxygen, so the local supply would have served us very well, to be honest”. ( The Gleaner, November 22, 2020)
IGL reported that it spent US$10 million on the air separation unit (ASU), with the capacity of producing 13 tonnes of medical oxygen and other gases per day, “since the commodity is highly prized in the age of COVID, sourcing it on foreign markets is uncertain”.
With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations, Graham announced that “based on the peak hospitalisation level in March, which was 477 persons, we are better prepared if we get to those levels again”. (the Jamaica Observer, August 9, 2021) Having such information about previous peak levels in hospitalisations, with the potential of further increases, should have motivated IGL to be fully prepared, as the sole manufacturer of medical oxygen, to meet Jamaica's supply without importation of the commodity.
In the Hans Christian Andersen children's story, The Emperor's New Clothes, a pair of weavers promised to make a suit made of a special fabric that's invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position. Nobody wanted to admit they couldn't see the suit (shortage of oxygen in our hospitals), until the emperor appears in public and a child (COVID-19) says, “The emperor has no clothes,” (no medical oxygen).
Dudley C McLean II