President Museveni has said Uganda’s chronic shortages of the life-saving oxygen gas for Covid-19 patients have been caused by absence of cylinders in which to carry the gas.
Whereas a Covid-19 patient takes between 20 and 70 litres of oxygen per day depending on their condition, there has been shortage of the life -saving gas in major hospitals around the country which has exacerbated the situation.
The lack of oxygen has contributed to almost half of the current deaths due to Covid-19 in the country.
Addressing the country on Friday, Museveni admitted there is an oxygen crisis but said it has been made worse by lack of containers to carry the life-saving gas.
“An average non-COVID-19 critical patient consumes one-to-two oxygen cylinders per day, however, a severely ill Covid-19 patient needs four to six cylinders per day. The current oxygen challenge we are facing is the availability of empty cylinders for distribution. Of course if cases keep expanding, it can also outstrip our production capacity,” Museveni said.
According to the president, the current national daily oxygen consumption stands at 3,000 cylinders per day, where each cylinder is 6,800 liters, adding that it will soon go up.
“With the estimated Covid-19 patient increase in the coming weeks, the daily oxygen consumption will rise to 25,800 cylinders per day in one month, unless we change the course. This is nearly a 9 -fold increase in the overall national oxygen requirement.”
He however noted that this trend of affairs can be reversed if people adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures put in place.
According to Museveni, a total lockdown is the last resort to reverse the trend.
“As noted above, unless we urgently intervene to reverse this, the estimates and observations by scientists show that the current number of people needing care will double in less than one month, outstripping our bed capacity,” he said.
He noted that there is need for urgent interruption of community transmission to cushion the health system to save lives using previously used containment measures.
“There is need to ramp up oxygen supply to all Covid-19 treatment health facilities and optimize the available care capacity so that it can adequately handle current and new cases over the next 42 days,” he said.
On Thursday, a new oxygen plant arrived at Mulago and awaits installation to meet the increased demand for the life- saving gas.
The new plant, which is the fifth, will provide an additional 1600 litres of oxygen per minute.