One thousand ventilators that were supposed to go to COVID-ravaged India from Victoria never left Australia.
Australian state of Victoria had promised 1,000 ventilators earlier in May this year when the second wave of COVID-19 ravaged India. The state government announced a $41 million package that included ventilators and supporting equipment such as connectors and humidifiers.
“The situation in India right now is nothing short of devastating. We simply cannot sit by and do nothing. We must step up and provide real, tangible support,” Mr Merlino had tweeted.
“That’s why we’re sending 1000 ICU ventilators to support Indian doctors, nurses and medical staff.”
However, the ventilators never made it to India as, according to the reports, the Indian Government advised they were not needed.
In a public accounts and estimates committee hearing, health officials were asked about whether the pledge was followed through or not.
“I’m not sure,” Department of Health secretary Euan Wallace said on Monday.
According to the news agency AAP, Deputy secretary Jodie Geissler confirmed there were more than 4000 ventilators in the state’s stockpile and would seek to confirm details on the Indian ventilator pledge. AAP reported, “It’s understood the Indian government advised that the donation of medical equipment was no longer required in June.”
“Victoria’s donation was first sought to be made through the commonwealth’s donation of supplies to the Delta-hit country, but the federal government was unable to help with suitable shipping for the ventilators.”
“While suitable arrangements were being pursued, the Indian government advised they were not needed.”
In June, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had confirmed that 19 of India’s 36 states and union territories had already received Australian medical supplies from previous deliveries, including 3000 ventilators and 250 oxygen concentrators.
“These form part of our $37.1 million package of support for India. Working in partnership with the Indian Government, the Indian Red Cross Society and local authorities are distributing Australian-donated supplies to people most in need,” the department had said in a statement.