Published By: BHI Communications

BHI Completes Oxygen Assessment in Liberia


Contact: Olivia Duggan, 

Build Health International (BHI) Completes Assessment of Critical Oxygen Infrastructure in Liberia

The BHI team examined oxygen generating plants at four major hospitals in Liberia to assess the condition of this essential health infrastructure.  The assessment will determine what repairs are required to increase oxygen capacity in response to the acute, chronic challenges facing the Ministry of Health: COVID-19 and a weakened primary care system.

BEVERLY, MA, February 2, 2022 — Build Health International (BHI) recently completed an assessment of medical oxygen plants at four major hospitals in Liberia. These assessments were led by a BHI team of biomedical engineers from Malawi and Ghana. The assessment found that two of the plants are completely non-functional, two are in need of significant repairs, and one is functioning at full capacity. The results of these assessments will help inform future maintenance and repair efforts. 

The BHI oxygen team carried out these assessments in close coordination and partnership with the Liberian Ministry of Health (MOH).  This effort was made possible through catalytic funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and operational support in Liberia from Partners in Health (PIH) and additional in-country partners.  

The visit to Liberia is the latest “Find and Fix” assessment conducted by BHI in its effort to improve the function of existing medical oxygen systems in sub-Saharan Africa in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Oxygen is an essential medicine.  It is critical for the delivery of safe, dignified primary care, as well as for emergency preparedness and response.  BHI find and fix assessments focus on pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants that hospitals use to fill oxygen cylinders and to support wall-mounted medical oxygen systems.  

Prior to Liberia, BHI assessed PSA oxygen plants in Malawi, with support from the DAK foundation, Sierra Leone, with support from the Skoll Foundation, and in Guinea-Bissau, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). The BHI team will use the data gathered on this assessment to work with local government authorities, in this case the Liberian MOH, and with partner organizations to develop a plan for repair and maintenance of the oxygen plants and including a return visit to conduct repairs onsite.  Data from the BHI assessment will also inform efforts by the Liberian MOH and its partners, including PIH, to advocate for new oxygen plants, to expand access to urgently needed medical oxygen and to build a more resilient, responsive health system. 

As the international community focuses on the evolving fight to control COVID-19 and maintain essential services, medical oxygen remains a critically important tool for treating patients and saving lives, especially in countries without widespread vaccine access. In many countries, repairing and maintaining existing PSA oxygen plants and other oxygen infrastructure is the most cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable way to increase oxygen capacity.  As a result, BHI is currently coordinating closely with partners in the international health sector to identify priority sites in Africa for find and fix activities and to plan assessment visits. 

Together, with the Ministry of Health, we are establishing Maryland as a model county for universal coverage. We are leveraging specialist staff and services – including our PSA plant and biomedical engineering hub – to strengthen regional readiness and response in the Southeast. I’m incredibly proud that during Ebola, and now COVID-19, we’ve demonstrated that the way to deliver a preferential option for the poor is to adapt and innovate so that primary care is accessible to those who need it most. Our commitment to the 5 Ss – staff, stuff, space, systems and social support – distinguishes our approach. We can never predict health system shocks, but we can make sure we build resilient systems that are strong enough to last. – Maxo Luma, MD, MPH, Executive Director of Partners in Health Liberia

About Build Health International: 

Build Health International (BHI) believes that every person has a right to quality healthcare. Through the design, building, and maintenance of healthcare infrastructure in low resource settings, BHI develops dignified care spaces and solutions that elevate the quality and accessibility of healthcare worldwide. Working closely with Ministries of Health, partner organizations, and local workforces, BHI promotes sustainable design, empowers communities, and enables access to dignified and affordable healthcare for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. 

BHI Medical Oxygen Program

Since the construction of Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM) in rural Haiti a decade ago, the BHI team has been active in the design, installation, repair, and maintenance of PSA oxygen plants.  BHI has expanded its medical oxygen practice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic through:

1) Advising:  advising governments on the procurement of PSA plants, 

2) Coordination:  coordination support to the international community, 

3) Find and Fix:  onsite assessment and repair of PSA plants, 

4) Facilities Upgrades:  upgrade of PSA plants and medical oxygen systems, and 

5) Training:  training biomedical technicians and hospital maintenance staff to sustainably repair and maintain PSA plants and related systems.