Devex covered how the COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted drastic gaps in medical oxygen across Africa. BHI’s Director of Andrew Johnston shares BHI’s work to repair critical infrastructure and what is still needed. Read the full article.
How COVID-19 laid bare Africa’s medical oxygen crisis
The death of Dr. Rosemary Chukwudebe, then head of the internal medicine department at Nigeria’s Kogi State Specialist Hospital in 2018 inspired Nigerian entrepreneur Temie Giwa-Tubosun to launch the medical oxygen business arm of her company LifeBank, which is well known for its blood supply services.
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“She [Chukwudebe] needed oxygen and they eventually found the oxygen after many hours but they could not find a spanner to open the cylinder. And this woman died,” Giwa-Tubosun said. “I have her picture on my wall in my office here to remind me why I do what I do.”
Unfortunately, Chukwudebe’s predicament is a familiar one in many countries in the African continent where patients with asthma and other conditions have died because they could not get the medical oxygen they urgently needed.
Though the COVID-19 response has had a positive impact on Africa’s medical oxygen sector, health experts said the gains made during the pandemic should be sustained in the long term.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, only two African countries — Ethiopia and Nigeria — had national oxygen policy road maps.
According to Nigeria’s National Policy on Medical Oxygen in Health Facilities, more than 625,000 deaths occur annually due to diseases associated with hypoxaemia, which is the insufficiency of oxygen in the blood or low blood oxygen saturation.
Read the full article here.