As Ahmedabad witnesses a spiralling number of COVID-19 positive cases and high death count, hospitals overloaded with patients were supplied a locally manufactured ventilator – Dhaman-1, made by a Rajkot-based company Jyoti CNC Automation. About a month after the ventilators were set up, it has been alleged that the ventilators are actually ambu-bags or artificial manual breathing devices. The inefficiency of the machines in treating COVID-19 positive patients came to light after doctors of Ahmedabad Civil hospital sought full-fledged ventilators from Centre despite having 230 Dhaman-1 machines.
The ventilator Dhaman -1 was inaugurated by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on April 4 at Civil hospital, Ahmedabad. The model was then touted as a ‘Make in India’ ventilator by the Rupani-led BJP government and 1,000 units were supplied to various hospitals across Gujarat including 230 in Ahmedabad, the city with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state.
“The Rajkot-based private company Jyoti CNC had developed the ventilator Dhaman-1 in a very short period of just 10 days. The manufacturing cost of Dhaman-1 is less than Rs 1 lakh and this is a great achievement. This shall add a feather to PM’s dream campaign of Make in India. CM Rupani congratulates Prakaramsinh Jadeja and his company Jyoti CNC for their contribution to Make in India,” stated the press release issued after the inauguration.
Notably, JV Modi, medical superintendent of Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad had written to the managing director of Gujarat Medical Services Corporation (GMSCL) for 50 ICU ventilators to equip the 1200-bed COVID-19 facility in the hospital.
The website of the company that quotes Prakramsinh Jadeja, the chief managing director (CMD), states, “The first live testing was done on a patient on April 4, 2020 in the presence of officials of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital along with CM Vijay Rupani and Deputy CM Nitin Patel. We are not experts in producing ventilators but looking at the current demand in the country, we planned and designed this equipment. We have developed this product keeping in mind Make in India mission. It requires several important parts, since imports were tough at the time, we sourced it from 26 different companies across India. We deployed a team of 150 engineers under leadership of Rajendra Parmar who has experience in ventilator testing and maintenance with RHP medicals.”
Jadeja was quoted by the local media as saying, “It is not a full-fledged ventilator and that the same was conveyed to the government in advance. However, we have assured to develop and upgrade the ventilators and come out with Dhaman-3.”
Following the furore, the company held a demonstration for doctors at Civil Hospital on May 18. CMD Jadeja told the media that the demonstration “was to make the doctors serving in COVID-19 facility of the hospital aware of the machine’s use”.
On the same day, denying that the ventilator Dhaman 1 ‘had failed’, Doctor MM Prabhakar, Officer on Special Duty for Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad, told the media, “It is not true that these machines have failed in their purpose. We have given some suggestions to the makers for upgrading them. Besides, with the increasing number of patients there is a need for more ventilators.”
Later, on May 20, Jayanti Ravi, principal health secretary of the state, held a press conference at Gandhinagar and defended the product.
“Cities with all facilities even in Europe and the USA are running out of ventilators. There is a shortage of ventilators and in such a situation, a distinguished manufacturer from the State took an initiative and made and donated 1,000 ventilators free of cost to the government.”
“Quality parameters were tested by and approved by the Electronics & Quality Development Centre (EQDC), Gandhinagar. The medicine and anesthesia department experts of Civil Hospital also have checked its functioning. The device would be upgraded with more accessories like high flow nasal cannula, a circuit associated with it, a compressor, mixer, humidifier and calibration,” she added.
Heath Commissioner Jai Prakash Shivhare denied that there was any difference between other ventilators and Dhaman -1 when used on COVID-19 positive patients.
“There are 226 ICU beds in Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad, out of which 180 beds are with other ventilators, 46 with Dhaman-1. No significant difference has been noticed between the functioning of the two,” said Shivhare.
Interestingly, even as the Gujarat government claims that the ‘ventilators’ were donated free of cost to the state, the Gujarat Medical Services Corporation Limited (GMSCL) had floated a tender of Rupees 1.30 crore to procure 250 Respiratory Humidifiers compatible with Dhaman -1 and 250 High Flow Metres for ventilators installed all over the state.
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