By Sharon Atieno

With the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizing the need to increase access to quality oxygen and revising the Essential Medicines List to include oxygen as an essential drug, two organizations have partnered to install oxygen plants across Kenya.

The partnership between Amref Health Africa and the Rockefeller Foundation has led to the completion of an oxygen generation plant at Othaya Level 6 Hospital in Nyeri County.

The agreement between the two organizations will see other plants put up at Kajiado Teaching and Referral Hospital, Mbagathi Hospital and the Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital, as part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts to support the Government of Kenya’s COVID-19 response.

The Kajiado Teaching and Referral Hospital is at 70% completion and on schedule for completion mid-December 2020. Additionally, Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital project implementation is at 50% completion and set to be completed by the end of this month.

Amref Group CEO, Githinji Gitahi commented, “Oxygen is an important life-saving commodity for the management of various critical conditions in health facilities and is often unaffordable to the poorest and most disadvantaged. Medical oxygen is also the primary treatment for majority of patients who are suffering severe COVID-19 symptoms. Its availability is hospitals is of utmost importance.”

The oxygen tank at Othaya Level 6 Hospital has the capacity to hold 4000 Kgs of liquid oxygen and can supply the hospital for 30 days at current consumption rates. Having an onsite oxygen plant will guarantee a sustainable supply of high purity oxygen in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Newborn Unit (NBU) Operations Theatres, as well as the general wards. Further, the installation will reduce the current cost of compressed oxygen by about 30%.

William Asiko, The Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Managing Director said, “The Rockefeller Foundation is keen to support the elimination of COVID-19 in Kenya and around the world. A challenge this large requires partners to collaborate in order to reach the scale and scope needed to bend the COVID-19 curve downward. Through collaboration with grantees such as Amref Health Africa and the Ministry of Health, we are working to identify, invest, and scale-up solutions in the communities we serve.”

To further support Othaya Level 6 Hospital, The Rockefeller Foundation, through Amref provided funding for 35 beds with mattresses, 3 patient monitors, 4,000 full sets of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and 1,000 cartons of sanitizer.