Mulago to install new plant as oxygen crisis worsens

Friday June 18 2021
Mulago Oxygen tanks

Mulago Hospital Commissioner for health services infrastructure, Mr George Otim, demonstrates how the Mulago oxygen plants operate in Kampala on December 1, 2020. PHOTO | DAVID LUBOWA

By Nobert Atukunda
By Paul Adude

A day after news leaked that 30 Covid-19 patients died after the oxygen supply malfunctioned at Mulago hospital on Tuesday, authorities at the facility have announced that they will install a fifth oxygen plant to meet the increased demand.

Mr David Nuwamanya, the hospital principal administrator, said the new oxygen plant, which will provide an additional 1,600 litres of oxygen per minute, will be operational by end of next week.

“What we see, this consumption is going up because the number of patients continues to rise and that calls for us to have more supply of oxygen,” Mr Nuwamanya said.

He added: “Together with Ministry of Health, we are in advanced stages of installing a new plant. The civil works are done.  It is a 70 cubic meter plant.”

Currently Mulago hospital produces 2,999 litres of oxygen per minute which is supplemented with cylinders, pushing it to 4,000 litres.

To further increase oxygen for Covid patients, Mulago has increased the number of cylinders at the facility. It has also worked out arrangements with government to import liquid oxygen.

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“Liquefied oxygen comes in from especially Kenya. Once it gets here, we vaporise it and turn it into oxygen and then also put it on our grid,” Mr Nuwamanya added.

A number of health facilities across the country both private and public are facing a shortage of oxygen given the high consumption as a result of increased demand.  Mulago hospital refuted the report that 30 people died as a result of oxygen failure and said they lost 17 patients but not as result of oxygen failure.

Uganda gets 175,200 doses

Meanwhile, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the minister of Health, has said the arrival 175,200 AstraZeneca vaccines from the Covax facility donated by the French government was a timely intervention since the country had run out of  vaccines.

“Out of the 964,000 doses, we have vaccinated 869,915 people which is 90.2 per cent of the vaccines given to us. We have a balance of 94,085 doses in the form of people vaccinated but their data is not yet entered into the system,” she said yesterday while receiving Uganda’s third batch of Covid-19 vaccines.

“Out of the donation that Covax facility gave to us, every dose was utilised effectively without any expiry although we had wastages,” she added.

The 175,200 doses will be distributed to different health centres across the country starting Friday, according to National Medical Stores.

Those to benefit are health workers not yet vaccinated, teachers, people with comorbidities and those due for their second dose.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) country representative, Dr Munir Safieldin, said in early August, another 688,800 doses are set to arrive in the country from Covax facility.

“We are working closely with the minister [Dr Aceng] to ensure the arrival of vaccines financed by the government very soon,” Dr Safieldin said.

The French Ambassador, Mr Jules-Armand Aniambossou, said: “These French donations to Covax are part of Team Europe’s broader effort to support this mechanism (100 million doses of European vaccines will be shared this year), which aims to ensure concrete vaccine solidarity on an international level.”

He added: “Beyond the vaccination, we are also committed to provide oxygen to this country.”

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