Uganda is improving its medical oxygen demand and supply ecosystem with a national scale up implementation plan that articulates a holistic approach.
The oxygen ecosystem includes liquid oxygen cylinders and concentrators, as well as the clinical engineering and technical assistance to use the technology. The government and the private sector have joined hands to improve the supply of medical oxygen across the country.
ATC Uganda a subsidiary of the American Tower Corporation (ATC) with support from the American Tower Foundation has stepped in to improve the supply of Oxygen. In partnership with AMREF in Uganda, ATC donated a total of 88 medical oxygen cylinders, together with their accessories worth US$45,000 (approximately UgX.162million).
Dr Mike Ryan, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Director of Health Emergencies Programme speaking at a media briefing last week said countries need to access Oxygen which he described as a capability and not a commodity. He said COVID didn’t cause the oxygen shortage but uncovered it and brought it to the forefront.
Oxygen remains a critical component of the global COVID-19 response. At least 75% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 can be treated with oxygen alone without any further advanced care. Yet the current global supply of oxygen does not meet needs for both COVID-19 and other serious illnesses.
“Through the ATC Foundation, we sought to bridge this gap because it is a critical treatment for not only COVID19 patients but also patients suffering from other ailments such as pneumonia, children, and adults in Intensive Care Units (ICU), accident victims, expectant mothers, among others”, said Mark Turyamureba, the Head of Legal at ATC Uganda.
The ATC Uganda and AMREF Health Africa’s partnership will enable the supply of life-saving medical gas to three hospitals namely Kiruddu national referral hospital, Arua and Gulu regional referral hospitals through the Ministry of Health.
Atul Gawande from USAID appealed to donors to prioritise oxygen to flatten the COVID-19 curve, to improve national security and to see oxygen as a high-return on health investment that will save lives even beyond the pandemic.
Children are among the victims of the lack of oxygen supplies with childhood pneumonia still one of the biggest killers of under-fives. But an estimated 20 to 40% of these deaths are preventable with increased availability of oxygen therapy.
“We are pleased that ATC responded to our mobilization for support towards the containment and distribution of oxygen and oxygen cylinders. This initiative adds to the current response Amref is mounting to strengthen Uganda’s health system’s resilience against COVID 19 and other health related challenges,” Dr. Patrick Kagurusi, the Country Manager Amref Health Africa in Uganda.