KENYA— The Global Fund Covid-19 response mechanism (C19RM) has provided US$41.7 million to the Kenyan government for the procurement and distribution of oxygen products throughout the country.

The funds provided are intended for use in the purchase of more than 20,000 medical oxygen cylinders meant to be distributed among thousands of grassroots health facilities in the 47 counties of Kenya.

More specifically, the cylinders will be distributed in 320 primary healthcare facilities alongside the development of 22 oxygen-producing plants and 14 bulk storage tanks.

President Ruto while presiding over the ceremony said, “The Global Fund came to Kenya’s aid and supported us in coping with the overwhelming systemic burden of the pandemic with significant financial support.”

The ceremony was also attended by Governor Anne Waiguru, the Chairperson of the Council of Governors, Linden Morrison, the Global Fund’s Department Head for Africa; AMREF Health Africa Group Chief Executive Officer Dr. Githinji Gitahi, and more than 20 county governors.

Weighing in on this development, Governor Waiguru said, “This launch goes a long way in increasing our capacity in health systems across all the 47 counties. I would like to thank AMREF for building a robust supply chain system that has been used to deliver the oxygen ecosystem by the Global Fund.”

The C19RM is a US$5 billion financial mechanism that the Global Fund established in 2020 to allow low and middle-income countries to purchase personal protective equipment diagnostic and therapeutic and set aside US$593 million for oxygen purchase.

The C19RM has been optimized to ensure funds are being used to invest in long-term programs to bolster the resilience of healthcare systems globally.

Linden Morrison said, “Through the C19RM emergency fund, Kenya is strengthening the medical oxygen ecosystem. These investments in oxygen infrastructure will save many lives across Kenya.”

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the dire situation not only in the country but globally to the lack of enough oxygen supply in healthcare facilities.

At the height of the crisis in January 2021 more than 8,000 patients were admitted and required respiratory support and the system was only able to handle 4200 patients.

In comparison to the 410 tons needed in January 2020 the need had risen to 880 tons by the same time the next year and the need had not even crescendoed yet.

The government has reiterated that the supply will support not only Covid-19 patients but provide care for other patients in respiratory distress.

More so patients that have pneumonia, sepsis, congenital heart disease, tuberculosis, severe malaria, AIDS, and surgical patients.

In another similar development, Kenya’s oxygen production firm Hewatele recently bagged Sh1.32 billion (US$10 million) loan from the U.S. government to step up the production of affordable supplies.

The loan to Hewatele is among 17 new investment transactions approved for Africa by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) totaling more than US$655 million (Sh86.77 billion).

A US$10 million loan to Hewatele Limited will help expand the production and distribution of affordable liquid medical oxygen for hospitals and clinics across Kenya, lowering costs for healthcare providers in rural and urban areas.

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