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Nyeri hospitals to receive oxygen tanks

Four level III and about six level IV medical facilities in Nyeri County are set to receive oxygen cylinders donated by the national government.

Out of the 20,620 medical oxygen cylinders flagged off by President Dr. William Ruto on April 18, the county was allocated 300 cylinders.

Speaking after receiving the consignment at the Nyeri County Referral hospital, Nyeri deputy governor, David Kinaniri said that the county health department will first distribute the cylinders to the middle and lower tier facilities.

Kinaniri also said that the main reason for considering the two primary levels of facilities was to ensure that they improve the oxygen availability in all medical facilities in the county.

“The 300 oxygen cylinders will be distributed to various level III and level IV health facilities in the county. We have received 25 small cylinders, 75 medium sized cylinders and 200 large cylinders,” said Kinaniri.

According to a report released by Access to Medicine Foundation last week, despite its inclusion in the World Health Organizations’ model list of essential list, medical oxygen was still being treated as a commodity with half of lower and middle income countries’ healthcare facilities lacking reliable access to the gas.

“Approximately half of health facilities in lower and middle income countries do not have access to medical oxygen. This is despite the fact that medical oxygen is included in the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines, meaning it is a product that should be available in every country’s health system,” says the report.

The report supports findings by the Emergency Medicine Foundation, which shows that over 30 per cent of healthcare centers across the country did not have a regular supply of oxygen. The survey also shows that close to 90 per cent of the facilities that had oxygen did not have piped oxygen in the emergency department and delivered the gas directly from the tanks to patients.

The Medicine Foundation says that even though some countries took steps to address critical oxygen shortages in some low- and middle-income countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, the foundation is now challenging industrial gas companies to do more to better address access to medical oxygen.

In its bid to boost access to medical oxygen, the county operates a 2.6 million litre capacity oxygen generation plant at the Mwai Kibaki level VI hospital in Othaya.

Currently the plant produces close to 1,800 litres of oxygen per minute. The facility was set up at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic by AMREF, Rockefeller Foundation and the ministry of health to support the counties to meet the oxygen demands occasioned by pandemic.

The deputy governor noted that the department was in the process of constructing distribution pipes to supply oxygen within the health facilities.

“Piping and manifold of the oxygen project was still ongoing in some of the health centres in readiness to receive the cylinders. These will help in the distribution of the gas to patients,” said Kinaniri.

By Wangari Mwangi

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