Published By: BHI Communications

BHI and DAK Foundation Launch Oxygen Assessment


Build Health International and DAK Foundation Launch Assessment of Critical Oxygen Infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa

Assessment will provide actionable information on the status of oxygen infrastructure that is essential in the fight against COVID-19

Beverly, MA, May 19, 2021 — As countries across sub-Saharan Africa brace for a potential second wave of COVID-19 infections, access to medical oxygen is a critical concern. Throughout the region, a significant percentage of existing oxygen infrastructure, including many Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants, sit idle and in need of repair. This week, Build Health International, in partnership with the DAK Foundation, is launching an assessment of existing infrastructure, to identify key maintenance and repair needs, help develop concrete plans of action, and ultimately increase oxygen capacity now and in the future

PSA plants are a vital element of oxygen infrastructure, and can be used to both fill oxygen canisters and deliver piped oxygen directly to patients’ bedsides. The availability of medical oxygen is critical in the fight against COVID-19, when supplemental oxygen is often the primary treatment for infected patients. Outside of the pandemic, oxygen is critical in a number of other settings, including the treatment of trauma, heart failure, asthma, pneumonia, and other infectious diseases, as well as in surgery and maternal and child care. 

Using a PSA plant “fix list” developed in partnership with the 50 Member Every Breath Counts Coalition (EBC) and local teams on the ground in Africa, BHI, with funding from DAK, will initially provide rapid assessments of plants in Malawi and Burundi, with the goal of expanding the assessments to other vulnerable countries in Africa. BHI’s plant assessments will cover:

-Overall plant functionality 

-Oxygen purity

-Electrical infrastructure (critical to the effective operation of PSA plants)

-Spare parts and service

-Staff training levels

-Plan of action 

In addition to providing information on current status, BHI will source parts and equipment necessary to make repairs, and provide comprehensive training for local teams on preventative maintenance, parts and procurement, and long-term functionality.

“Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic – most recently in India – we’ve seen the desperate need increase for medical oxygen,” said Jim Ansara, Co-Founder and Managing Director of BHI. “We’re also aware that this need is not new, especially in many low- and middle-income countries; BHI has worked for more than a decade to strengthen oxygen infrastructure in communities around the world. This assessment is a continuation of that work, and a critical part of the effort to ensure that hospitals and clinics in sub-Saharan Africa have the capacity not only to respond to the immediate crisis, but to produce and use medical oxygen effectively in the long term.”

BHI and the DAK Foundation plan to move quickly to begin assessments, and welcome the partnership of other partners and funders to help expand this effort and reach more vulnerable communities. 

About Build Health International

Build Health International (BHI) promotes global health equity by developing high quality health infrastructure in low and very low-resource settings. Completing over 150 projects in 22 countries with 42 BHI-supported health facilities, BHI balances the need to design for long-term operations, while minimizing capital costs and supporting healthcare workers to deliver the highest-possible quality of care. From clinical planning to architectural design, from building construction to facilities maintenance, BHI provides partners with the infrastructure solutions they need to deliver compassionate, dignified healthcare around the world. 

Collaborating with high-impact NGO, government, and private partners and the communities served, BHI works to understand the challenges faced and potential opportunities for innovation in resource-constrained settings to be more efficient, sustainable and operationally effective. The multidisciplinary team develops new methodologies, approaches, tools and design practices to overcome these challenges in ways that can be replicated across the sector in low-resource settings and emerging markets. BHI aims to prove that critical components of care – including reliable oxygen, affordable energy and temperature-controlled spaces – are not only possible, but can often require less investment and lengthened longevity.  

About The DAK Foundation

The DAK Foundation is a Private Ancillary Fund founded by Dave and Kerry Rickards in 2010. We partner with DGR accredited organisations in Australia to support projects around the world. Supporting Eyesight Restoration Surgery, Women’s Health and Essential Medical Equipment, we utilise and enhance existing capacity rather than build something new from the ground up. The DAK Foundation supports more than 40 projects worldwide through our accredited partners in Australia. The DAK Foundation is looking forward to taking part in this initiative with BHI to provide programming and technical advice support. All funding to BHI is provided via tax-approved Australian intermediaries.