The World Health Organization is working to improve the capabilities of Sierra Leone’s healthcare institutions by increasing the availability of oxygen for patients in severe condition.

As a response to the demand for oxygen in public health facilities all over Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided the Ministry of Health and Sanitation with 900 oxygen cylinders equipped with regulators and humidifiers on May 30, 2022. 

This donation was made in response to the need for oxygen in public health facilities. This is due to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted weaknesses in the capability of the Sierra Leonean health system to react appropriately to the demands of patients, particularly with regard to the supply of medical oxygen that may save lives. The cylinders that have been given to us each have the capacity to carry forty litres of oxygen. More than two hundred thousand United States Dollars were spent on the contribution overall.

According to Dr. James Bunn, who serves as a Technical Officer for Case Management at the WHO Country Office in Sierra Leone, the transfer of oxygen cylinders to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation is a vital step in the process of providing oxygen to hospitals all throughout the country. Dr. Bunn remembered the critical situation that existed in the nation with regard to the accessibility of oxygen during the beginning of COVID-19 in the country in March of 2020.

“You may remember that in the beginning of COVID-19, both we and many other nations had a short period of being unable to keep up with the number of patients who need oxygen.

 However, over the course of the last two years, it has been a delight to see the nation come to understand and react to this need with the assistance of partners and donors, as Dr. Bunn said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Sierra Leone, Dr. Steven Shongwe, made a statement in which he discussed the availability of oxygen in the country’s healthcare institutions as well as some of the recent advancements that have been made in the effort to increase that availability.

Through the efforts of a technical working group, the nation is now engaged in the first phases of formulating a long-term strategy for the management of the oxygen supply chain. This will advise the Ministry of Health and other partners on the most effective ways to supply oxygen, including the distribution of cylinders as well as logistical arrangements for the local refilling of cylinders and transportation.

According to Dr. Shongwe, “This is not a small undertaking, and the 900 oxygen cylinders being provided by WHO are an important part of a whole system approach in the provision of this lifesaving commodity to patients.” Patients with COVID-19, whose lives can be saved with the reliable provision of oxygen, are among those who stand to benefit from the WHO’s donation of oxygen cylinders.

Mrs. Princess Dugba, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, expressed her gratitude for the donation and noted that the cylinders have arrived at a time when the government is in the beginning stages of putting together a strategy on its oxygen supply chain. She also stated that she was pleased with the progress that has been made.

We would want to express our gratitude to WHO for donating these cylinders to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, and we will make it a priority to deliver them to all of the nation’s medical institutions. “This comes at an opportune moment since the Ministry is now striving to address the oxygen demands of health institutions, and not only for COVID-19 but also for other oxygen needs that patients have,” Mrs. Dugba added.

Oxygen can be supplied via cylinders even in the absence of power, and they have the capacity to store significant quantities for individual patient usage. They are able to be filled by the new oxygen plants that are being placed at regional and certain district hospitals. They are a vital component in the creation of a strong system to supply oxygen and can provide this when high flow oxygen is required for patients who are severely sick.

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