SOUTH SUDAN – South Sudan has began operating the country’s first oxygen plant, ending a crisis over a shortage of medical oxygen as the country battles COVID-19.

The plant, which was set up at Juba Teaching Hospital with funding from the African Development Fund, was procured as part of measures to support the country’s ongoing COVID-19 response with a grant from the African Development Bank Group’s concessional lending arm. The project was implemented by the World Health Organization (WHO) on behalf of the government.

With a generating capacity of 2,500 liters per day and the ability to refill around 72 D-type oxygen cylinders daily, the plant will be a centralized production and supply hub for remote locations. The equipment includes 240 cylinders and four years of service and accessories.

The US$980,000 oxygen plant project’s cost includes the procurement and construction of a facility to house the plant.

South Sudan’s Health Minister Elizabeth Achuei Yol said the installation of the plant was good news to the nation and would bolster the country’s preparedness for oxygen in anticipation of a third wave of COVID-19.

“South Sudan will no longer be importing oxygen from neighboring countries, and this means oxygen will be supplied to facilities on time and more lives will be saved.

The installment of the oxygen plant is good news to us. It will help the people of South Sudan, and this marks the beginning of the country’s preparedness for oxygen generation to tackle the third wave,” Yol added.

Yol said that although COVID-19 remains a major threat to the country, her ministry is putting measures in place to ensure a timely response to the pandemic.

Dr. Victoria Achut, the undersecretary at the Ministry of Health, said the oxygen plant is a good investment for the country not only for its COVID-19 response, but to support health service delivery.

Oxygen is not only essential for [fighting] COVID. It goes beyond COVID. It is used for infections such as pneumonia, asthma and also for newborns and in operating theaters,” she said.

The plant will strengthen the country’s health system and improve emergency preparedness, particularly in terms of the country’s COVID-19 response and for other diseases, including those suffered by children who need oxygen all the time.

Benedict Sorie Kanu, country manager of the African Development Bank, described the plant as a watershed to strengthen the country’s health system to respond to COVID-19 and other diseases.

The US$980,000 invested in the oxygen generation plant is a watershed in our efforts to strengthen the health system in this country to make sure we are better prepared for COVID and other health emergencies,” Kanu said.

AFDB donates COVID surveillance cars to S. Soudan

Besides the oxygen plant, the country has received two vehicles from the African Development Bank through the World Health Organization (WHO).

The cars will be used by the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre in Juba to coordinate the incident management system and deploy national rapid response teams to enhance outbreak investigation.

South Sudan confirmed its first Covid-19 case on 5 April 2020. On 31 August 2021 it had recorded a total of 11,446 cases, 120 deaths and 11,112 recoveries from Covid-19.

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