Uganda Receives UGX 25B From Global Fund To Install Seven Oxygen Plants

Written by on June 14, 2021

The Ministry of Health has received US$ 7million about Shillings 25billion from the Global Fund to install seven oxygen plants across the country. Eng. George Otim, the Commissioner of health infrastructure in the Health Ministry, says they will install the oxygen plants in Mbarara, Hoima, Fort Portal, Kampala, Mbale, Lira and Arua.

He says that the plants will be installed near the old ones at the respective regional hospitals while the one for Kampala will be set up in Wabigalo. The one in Kampala will serve facilities such as Entebbe hospital in Central region and will generate 300 oxygen cylinders per day.

The remaining plants will generate 200 cylinders for the regional hospitals and facilities across Uganda. Eng. Otim says the seven plants will generate 2,000 oxygen cylinders per day.

Otim says installation of the  seven new  oxygen plants, expected to be completed by August, is timely because  they will boost the country’s medical oxygen generation capacity.

He says currently the country needs 1,000 oxygen cylinders. However, the medical oxygen plants at the 13 regional referral hospitals have a total installed capacity of 650 oxygen cylinders. Each plant can generate a maximum of 50 cylinders daily. The plants were installed between 2016 and 2020 at Masaka, Jinja, Entebbe, Mbale, Soroti and Fort portal Regional Referral hospitals among others.

The country is currently facing an oxygen crisis because of increased demand for medical oxygen, a lifesaving commodity for patients with chronic and acute illnesses. Lack of oxygen can result in severe complications and death. Last week, 10 COVID-19 patients died at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital due to oxygen shortage while the oxygen plant at Masaka hospital broke down recently because it was overstretched.

Muhammad Mubiru, the Principal Hospital Administrator at Entebbe Hospital says 40 of its over 130 patients need oxygen. Mubiru says that critical patients normally consume 5 litres of oxygen per minute. This is approximately one cylinder a day. However, COVID-19 patients in critical condition use 2 to 4 cylinders a day.

“Our plant cannot generate more than 50 cylinders a day. But we are happy that we are refilling 15 more cylinders daily from the Roofing Ltd plant in Namave,” Mubiru said. Eng. Otim however says that the ministry is working round the clock to ensure Entebbe Hospital receives 50 oxygen cylinders daily so that they can have at least 90 to 100 cylinders for the critical patients.

He adds that the Ministry of health is buying oxygen supplies from private companies to address the countrywide oxygen shortage. He says Roofings Ltd is supplying oxygen-free to Entebbe hospital and other public facilities while the ministry will pay for supplies from other suppliers including Luwero Industries Limited, Oxygas Ltd, Steel and Tube and Casement Africa Ltd.

Luwero Industries Limited is a subsidiary of the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC). NEC is the commercial arm of the Uganda People’s Defense Force-UPDF.

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