Medical oxygen is one of our best tools
in the fight against COVID-19.
And delivering healthy outcomes for
all patients long-term.
COVID-19 brought the existing gaps in medical oxygen systems into sharp focus, as increased caseloads of patients suffering from respiratory distress led to shortages in critical oxygen therapy. Yet long before the pandemic began, many low- and middle-income countries were already facing dire oxygen shortages.
BHI has been designing, installing, repairing, and maintaining medical oxygen infrastructure in low-resource settings for over a decade. Medical oxygen is a key tool used for treating pneumonia, providing neonatal care, and performing surgery. Now, as the international health community looks towards actionable ways to expand oxygen access, we are glad to be at the forefront of implementing sustainable infrastructure solutions, to treat COVID-19 and strengthen health systems in the long-run.
BHI's Oxygen Approach
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. When the COVID-19 pandemic exposed critical gaps in medical oxygen infrastructure, especially in countries without wide-spread vaccine access, BHI became a trusted leader in medical oxygen expansion. BHI has takes a holistic and multi-faceted approach to strengthening oxygen infrastructure by working alongside partners to provide advice, assessments, upgrades, and trainings across Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Sharing our Oxygen Expertise
Advising and Coordination
In coordination with The Global Fund and international partners, BHI engages with key stakeholders at ministries of health and within local communities to provide the technical specifications necessary for oxygen plant procurement and installation. Technical experts on the BHI team perform in-country site-readiness assessments to evaluate what upgrades and alterations to the facility are needed before a PSA plant is installed. The findings from these assessments then guide recommendations for PSA plant size, configuration, specifications, and training programs. Advising and coordination in this manner allows for the implementation of context-appropriate, efficient, and safe oxygen plants.
Assessing & Repairing Infrastructure
Find and Fix
With the support of the Every Breath Counts Coalition, BHI launched the “Find & Fix” initiative to identify and assess all non-commercial oxygen production facilities in the countries most vulnerable to COVID. Once plants are assessed, BHI’s team of biomedical engineers and specialists work with the hospital staff, ministries of health, and NGO partners to complete identified repair needs and priorities. Since launching in June 2021, with funding from global health partners the Find and Fix initiative has grown to include assessments and repairs in 11 countries and counting.
Powering Sustainable Solutions
In order to run successfully and sustainably, every Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plant requires a reliable source of power. That’s why BHI’s team of electrical engineers complete facilities upgrades to hospitals’ electrical infrastructure. Whether it be installing solar panels at healthcare facilities that don’t have consistent access to the electrical grid, or rewiring the facility’s current electrical system to be more efficient, with each oxygen project BHI completes, power access is top of mind.
Building Maintenance Capacity
With every assessment and repair that BHI completes, our goal is to ensure that local technicians have the training they need to maintain oxygen infrastructure and complete future upgrades. During each BHI site visit, our team of biomedical engineers intentionally engages and works alongside hospital staff to provide demonstrations, answer questions, and train technicians on the ins and outs of operating and maintaining PSA plants and related infrastructure. Thanks to the support of our partners, BHI's team of engineers and technicians also provide intensive practical and curriculum-based training at the country level and are exploring the feasibility of opening an on-site training center in East and West Africa. These trainings will help to equip professionals with the skills, perspective, and support network to ensure long-term functionality of PSA plants in their hospitals and health facilities.
"This oxygen effort that Build Health International is leading is some of the most important work during the pandemic because lack of access to medical oxygen is not only elevating COVID-19 deaths rates, but also deaths among other patients from the tiniest newborn to the oldest patient needing surgery. BHI is doing this work in a way that will continue saving lives with investments in local skills and strengthening health systems for the long-term. The Every Breath Counts Coalition is proud to call BHI a member.”
Director, Every Breath Counts Coalition