Kenya’s devolution support program in collaboration with the World Bank and Kericho County Government has embarked on the construction of an oxygen plant with a capacity of processing 350 liters of oxygen per minute upon completion.
The facility will house an oxygen plant unit, air generator, air dryer, air compressor, standby generator, evacuation, and refilling system these will supplement the smaller oxygen unit at the hospital which will jointly run to ensure that patients in the referral hospital and dispensaries around Kericho County will not lack oxygen.
Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony, Kericho County Deputy Governor Lily Ngok said the county referral hospital was overstretched by lack of oxygen during the covid-19 period and had incurred more cost to purchase oxygen from other suppliers.
“I want to thank the county finance and sector teams for ensuring the county gets the level two funding from the World Bank which is awarded based on measured performance, it’s through their tireless effort that we get 46.8 million to fund the construction of the oxygen plant,” said Ngok.
She further added that the plant will be able to provide oxygen to other facilities in Kericho County and the surplus can be sold to neighboring counties.
Kericho County Ministry of Health Service Chief officer David Ekuwam said since 2018 oxygen has been considered a medical commodity that is why our Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the High Dependency Unit (HDU), theatres, and the maternity wings will be supplied with piped oxygen, while the outpatient unit has standby oxygen cylinders.
Ekuwam reiterated that the spike in demand for oxygen due to coronavirus cases was a blessing in disguise has that prompted the need to construct an ultra-modern oxygen plant to cater to the high demand for oxygen.
“Oxygen is a key element in response to the patients diagnosed with covid-19 since they need supplemental oxygen because the infection causes viral pneumonia that paralyzes the lungs, these patients need oxygen early enough to stop them from progressing into a critical stage where they require ventilation,” said Ekuwam
In February 2021 Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said that the availability of oxygen remains low in public health facilities at 16 per cent, and where available, the supply is not optimal due to lack of necessary distribution and delivery infrastructure.
Oxygen was classified by the World Health Organization in 2017 as an essential medicine for the treatment of hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood), was finally listed as such in the 2019 Kenya Essential Medicines List, as one of the six inhalational medicines that should be available from dispensary level.
Also in attendance was Kericho East Deputy County Commissioner Mr. Stephen Orinde who called on the public not to drop guard on matters with covid-19 prevention measures as he terms the viral disease as still dangerous, he called on the public to keep social distance, wash hands frequently and wear a face mask.
By Byegon Alfric and Kevin Mutai