Jigmi Wangdi

The first-of-its-kind pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen-generating plants were inaugurated at the National Referral Hospital in Thimphu and Mongar Regional Referral Hospital yesterday.

PSA oxygen generators are the equipment that produce oxygen at 90 percent to 93 percent purity using adsorbents to remove nitrogen gas from the air.

The plants are expected to ensure the enhancement of the delivery of quality medical services in the country.

Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said that the need for such plants was reinforced during the Covid-19 pandemic, where the timely delivery and replenishment of vital medical oxygen was a huge constraint.

The two plants are expected to ensure the enhancement of the delivery of quality medical services

“By establishing the onsite oxygen plants at the two referral hospitals, we hope to strategically address these concerns by efficiently generating medical oxygen on-site to ensure uninterrupted lifesaving service to our patients,” Lyonpo said.

The conventional method of transporting filled oxygen cylinders from manufacturers outside the country often posed great risks to the patients owing to logistics or sudden roadblocks which would hamper the timely delivery of oxygen cylinders.

The Chief Programme Officer of the Health Technology and Intervention Division with the ministry, Ugyen Tashi, said that JDWNRH spends at least Nu 19 million to refill the oxygen cylinders.

“The investment in the two plants came up to around Nu 38 million. The plant will start generating the returns in just two years and the manufacturer has guaranteed it will function for a minimum of 10 years,” Ugyen Tashi said.

The plant will be able to directly supply oxygen to the hospital through the existing central medical gas pipeline system. 

The cost saving on procuring oxygen tanks from abroad will also be high as the plants can also be used to fill the tanks. The two plants have the capacity to refill 50 oxygen cylinders per 24 hours of operation.

Officials from the health ministry, JDWNRH and the Acting WHO Representative in Bhutan Dr BB Rewari attended the inauguration yesterday. The Regional Director of the WHO South-East Asia Region, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh also joined the event virtually.

The World Health Organisation supported the project.