MANILA  – The country has to start ramping up medical oxygen supply to prepare for the possible increase in demand, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
In a television interview Wednesday, Lopez said although the country can still meet the requirement for medical oxygen amid the rising coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases, it is crucial to ensure it has enough supply if there will be a surge in demand in the future.
Lopez said there are only four local medical oxygen suppliers in the country with a total capacity of 604 tons per day.
“We have enough capacity. In other words, we still have surplus,” he said, adding that some 470 tons of medical oxygen are being consumed on a daily basis.
However, the DTI chief said once the demand doubles, local supplies could no longer meet the market requirement.
“We can already encourage private companies to start expanding,” he said.
Lopez said one company named Cryogenics Gases will operate in Butuan in the second half of the year.
He added one of the challenges of oxygen manufacturers here is the sourcing of medical oxygen tanks, which are twice the thickness of a liquefied petroleum gas tank.
Aside from medical oxygen in tanks, Lopez has urged the government and the private sector to start importing oxygen concentrators that can be an alternative for oxygen tanks while the country is ramping up the local supply of medical oxygen.
“We were discussing with (Department of Science and Technology) Secretary (Fortunato) de la Peña for this one. This is one equipment that can be developed by DOST, then we will need a private sector partner to commercialize the production. This is one of the projects now of DOST,” he said. (PNA)