Published By: BHI Communications

Build Health International Delivers First Oxygen Training and Capacity Building Program in Nepal

Combining on-site instruction with follow-on virtual support, the program is the latest in a series of trainings aimed at expanding local capacity to manage essential oxygen systems

February 21, 2023 – In December, Build Health International (BHI) launched a first-of-its-kind oxygen training and capacity building program in Nepal, in partnership with the Nepal Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), to increase local capacity to repair and maintain essential oxygen infrastructure and improve the longevity of life-saving medical oxygen systems.

“The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made clear just how under-provided medical oxygen is globally, but getting working oxygen plants into regions in need is only the first step in increasing access to this critical therapeutic tool,” said Andrew Johnston, Director of Medical Oxygen Education and Training at BHI. “After that, it’s about the people. The people we’ve trained this week in Nepal, the people they’ll go on to train, and so on. It is their ability to maintain and repair this essential infrastructure that will keep oxygen flowing, strengthen health systems, and meaningfully advance global health equity – and that’s why expanding those capabilities through trainings like this one is so crucially impactful.”

“Oxygen plants, like those managed by participants in this training, are arguably the most important source of high-volume oxygen delivery that we have in Nepal, and their continued functioning is vital to treating a range of urgent medical conditions,” said Dr. Allison Gocotano, Team Lead of Health Emergencies at WHO. “While we’ve made major gains in establishing new oxygen plants in regions in need, it is just as necessary that we ensure oxygen plant technicians have what they need to conduct routine and preventative oxygen plant maintenance. Successful trainings like this one can be the difference between operational and entirely non-operational systems, and I’m thrilled our Nepal oxygen community was able to work with the BHI team to make this program a reality.”

BHI engineers Britta Johnston (left) and David Acolatse (right) deliver overviews with trainees in Nepal.

Over eight days, the BHI team worked closely with nine participants – representative of eight unique oxygen systems across Nepal – to provide an interactive, on-the-ground training program in country. Focused on integrating theory with practical knowledge, the program included a pre-training assessment to establish participants’ baseline skill levels and better understand the context of participants’ specific oxygen systems, a three-day workshop and five days of hands-on instruction that combined interactive lectures and presentations with in-person site visits to a local oxygen plant. The training covered key concepts such as oxygen plant principles and operations, their components and delivery systems, and plant safety, repair, and maintenance. 

To ensure participants continue to feel supported as they put their learning into practice post-training, the BHI team also offers remote support: WhatsApp groups with BHI team members and participants serve as accessible community spaces for trainees to connect, troubleshoot, seek expert guidance, and share resources and information.

Out of the Lecture Hall:  BHI Facilities and Biomedical Engineer, David Acolatse, engages with trainees during a practical session at a PSA Plant.

This training program was made possible thanks to efforts from the WHO. The training in Nepal comes after similar programs in Liberia and Lesotho earlier in 2022, which engaged more than 50 people, and as BHI continues to conduct a series of “Find and Fix” assessments in countries around the world – including Liberia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau – aimed at assessing the current state of oxygen infrastructure and supporting necessary repairs.

BHI’s is currently working with local and global partners to plan additional oxygen trainings in Africa beginning in February 2023, and additional information about BHI’s work to expand global access to medical oxygen can be found here. 

About Build Health International:

Build Health International (BHI) believes that every person has a right to quality healthcare. In 2010, following the Haitian Earthquake, BHI built the Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM), Haiti’s flagship teaching hospital. Since then, BHI has designed, built, and equipped over 200 dignified spaces in more than 30 countries for care in the world’s most vulnerable communities, enabling local clinicians to work at their full potential. Working closely with ministries of health, partner organizations, and local workforces, BHI promotes sustainable design, and empowers communities, and enables access to dignified and affordable healthcare in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. 

Additional information about other projects in the BHI pipeline, including oxygen work, can be found here.