The Department of Trade and Industry will help Indonesia in the supply of medical oxygen as the neighboring country is experiencing shortage in supply on sudden surge in COVID-19 cases.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said they have already found two big local possible medical oxygen manufacturers that can export to Indonesia.
During a DTI discussion, he said, the two oxygen manufacturers were told they can export to Indonesia if they still have excess capacity from their current capacity for domestic requirement. Lopez did not identify the two oxygen manufacturers.
When the Philippines suffered a surge in COVID-19 cases three or four months ago, the DTI has made an inventory of oxygen supplies and capacity of local manufacturers. At that time, Lopez said the country has an excess of 20 to 30 percent of capacity.
But the DTI has also encouraged these companies to beef up their capacity if not double their production in preparation for a possible surge in cases and eventual need for more oxygen.
In May this year, Lopez said that he Department of Health had placed the current medical oxygen consumption in the country at around 561,900 tanks or equivalent to 5,366 tons per month.
A DTI research also showed that producers are currently operating at about 11,000 tons per month. At this estimated consumption levels, the country would still have close to 6,000 tons per month buffer.
But the country still has around 9,000 tons per month buffer when basing it on the maximum production capacities.
The trade chief pointed to BOI data showing that there are three major producers of oxygen in the country and there is another producer with a smaller capacity, while there is a fifth facility that is yet to be operationalized. There are over 50 wholesalers and retailers of this locally produced oxygen.
He added that producers maintain a range of 4 to 14 days-inventory levels during normal times, again, not counting the unused capacity.
Lopez said DTI-BOI has recommended to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19 for a protocol to be designed for a fast ramp-up of oxygen supply to be triggered if there is a looming serious surge.
He also stressed that current oxygen manufacturers will need to operate at maximum capacity for medical oxygen while capacities for industrial oxygen, if and when necessary, may need to be shifted to the production of medical oxygen.
DTI is also recommending for government to stock up on oxygen concentrators, that can augment the supply of medical oxygen for critical patients.
Currently, there are no producers of oxygen concentrators in the country. He then urged the Department of Science and Technology and the engineering community to develop this equipment that can be commercially manufactured locally.
In the meantime, he encouraged the strategic stockpiling of these critical equipment such as cylinders, tanks, and concentrators to ensure supply at any given point in time.
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