KENYA – Amref Health Africa and the Global Fund in collaboration with the Ministry of Health have donated oxygen support to various health facilities in Embu county.

The move, which seeks to boost access to quality and affordable healthcare services has seen the county receive 263 new oxygen cylinders, 20 oxygen splitters, 10 patient monitors as well as oxygen piping and manifold in eight facilities.

“Oxygen coverage in Embu county stands at 25 per cent with two plants available,” Health executive Francis Ndwiga said.

“We are pleased to be part of this project, which will improve access to medical oxygen and bring hope to our people.”

The World Health Organization acknowledges that oxygen is an essential medicine, used to care for patients at all levels of the healthcare system. This includes in surgery, trauma, heart failure, asthma, pneumonia and maternal and child care.

“Pneumonia alone accounts for 800,000 deaths per year. It is estimated that 20 to 40 per cent of these deaths could be prevented with the availability of oxygen therapy,” WHO says.

The demand for oxygen has further been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic that has seen more patients admitted in health facilities.

WHO estimates that the need has increased to 1.1 million cylinders in low to middle-income countries alone.

This saw Kenyans pay more for oxygen as the price shot up due to increased demand. Patients in ICU would sometimes need up to three cylinders a day.

In July last year, Topcare Limited partnered with Oxygen Hub to inaugurate a twin oxygen plant in Nakuru County in an effort to increase medical oxygen reserve capacity amid rising COVID-19 cases.

Topcare Limited provides comprehensive primary healthcare and specialized services ranging from diagnostics, surgical packages and outreach services to wellness and occupational health services. In addition, the company runs medium level facilities in Kajiado and Nakuru counties in Kenya.

Topcare partnered with Oxygen Hub as a franchisee to roll out oxygen production in peri-urban and rural areas amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Topcare-Oxygen Hub will also deliver oxygen to hospitals on planned schedules to boost oxygen availability in hospitals.

The collaboration came at a time when the COVID-19 outbreak has significantly increased the number of patients in need of medical oxygen in hospitals to help address oxygen gaps in specialized healthcare services offered in both the private and public sector.

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