Experts warn of urgent need to strengthen healthcare oxygen infrastructure

In light of the lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic, experts are stressing the urgent need to strengthen oxygen supply in healthcare settings.

These concerns come as Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) implements modifications to the oxygen supply system at Kisenyi Health Center IV, effectively eliminating chaotic scenes of health workers struggling with oxygen cylinders.

During the unveiling of the new oxygen system, Dorothy Kisaka, the Executive Director of KCCA, expressed her gratitude to Save the Children for their support in improving maternal and child care. Dr. Daniel Okell, the Director of Public Health and Environment at KCCA, delivered her speech on her behalf.

"We extend our sincerest appreciation to our partners, Save the Children, who have provided this unique Oxygen manifold system to all eight of our health facilities at a cost of USD 30,000. Save the Children has also ensured the capacity building and development of our health workers through on-site mentorship," Kisaka said.

Dave Greenhalgh, the Program Development and Quality Director at Save the Children, expressed satisfaction with the transformation, stating, "It is truly gratifying to witness this change. Three months ago, I witnessed people carrying heavy cylinders to rooms where children were being treated, but with this new system, that is no longer the case. Our aim is to ensure that no child dies before their 5th birthday."

He emphasized that the Oxygen Manifold system being launched is not just a piece of equipment but a lifeline. It symbolizes hope, resilience, and progress.

Dave pledged Save the Children's continued support to ensure the efficient operation of the Oxygen Manifold and the provision of essential training to healthcare workers in line with the National Oxygen Scale-up Plan.

Previously, Kisenyi Health Center IV relied on a single oxygen cylinder, limiting its ability to provide critical respiratory support during times of crisis.

However, the installation of an oxygen gas manifold has significantly improved the center's capacity to assist patients with severe respiratory conditions.

This innovative upgrade was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Save the Children Uganda, with support from the People's Postcode Lottery (PPL) under the Saving Women and Preterm Babies Project (SWAP).

SWAP, a three-year project implemented by Save the Children, aims to enhance maternal and newborn care in five health facilities across Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono districts.

In addition to the oxygen manifold system, the project has provided essential equipment such as radiant warmers, phototherapy machines, pulse oximeters, and incubators to improve the care of mothers and newborns.

Representing Dr. Olaro Charles, the Director of Curative Services, Jessica Nsungwa Sabiti emphasized the urgent need to strengthen oxygen supply in healthcare, particularly in light of the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Violet Birungi, the Head of Health and Nutrition at Save the Children, highlighted the significance of the Oxygen Manifold system as a lifeline and a symbol of hope, resilience, and progress.

The installation of the oxygen manifold system marks a significant step toward enhancing healthcare delivery in Uganda, particularly for mothers and newborns.

Dr. Prossy Ssemogerere, in charge of Kisenyi HCIV, revealed that the transition to piped oxygen will substantially reduce the risk of infections, ultimately saving lives.

One of the remarkable aspects of this initiative is its potential impact on child and maternal health. With an average of approximately 100 babies delivered each month at Kisenyi Health Center IV, the availability of reliable oxygen supplies becomes crucial.

Maternal and neonatal mortality rates in Uganda have long been a concern. A significant number of these deaths are preventable through evidence-based clinical interventions.

Major contributors to maternal mortality include hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, malaria, HIV, severe anemia, infections, and pregnancy-related sepsis.

Meanwhile, neonatal mortality is primarily caused by complications from preterm birth, birth asphyxia, and sepsis, among other factors.

Strengthening oxygen supplies across healthcare facilities like Kisenyi Health Center IV has the potential to prevent up to 122,000 childhood pneumonia deaths annually

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