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Governors partner with firm to ensure supply of oxygen to health facilities

Health & ScienceBy Julius Chepkwony | Thu,Apr 01 2021 00:00:00 UTC | 3 min read

 Hewatele Oxygen plant at Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital (PGH). [Kipsang Joseph, Standard ]

As health facilities struggle to get oxygen for Covid-19 patients, some counties have ensured a steady supply of the vital commodity.

Nakuru, Kisii, Kisumu, Siaya, Migori and Nyeri counties have set up oxygen plants to meet the rising demand.

An oxygen plant at the Rift Valley Referral General Hospital in Nakuru town generates oxygen for use in hospitals and ambulances.

Nakuru Medical Services chief officer Solomon Sirma said the county had partnered with Hewatele to supply hospitals with oxygen. “Initially, we would request for 80 cylinders at most but the number has since doubled. Unlike before, the number of patients admitted to our facility with difficulty in breathing has increased,” Dr Sirma said.

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He noted that three-quarters of the wards at the Rift Provincial General Hospital have been piped with oxygen.

Hewatele Chief Executive Officer Zulfigar Wali said they have scaled-up production to meet the high demand for oxygen. Wali noted that they also supply oxygen to Nyandarua County.

He said they produce 180 cylinders a day and decried shortage of oxygen cylinders.

Filled monthly

In Kisumu, Health Executive Boaz Nyunya said the county has capacity to meet oxygen demand following installation of a liquid oxygen tank at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital.

Initially, the tank was filled monthly but now this has to be done every two weeks. The county plans to install oxygen concentrator machine by May.

“We have been lucky that no patient has lacked oxygen and no deaths have been recorded due to lack of oxygen,” Nyunya said.

The county buys the liquid oxygen from BOC Company.

The hospital’s chief executive George Rae said at least 50 patients require oxygen daily.

The Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital oxygen plant produces 500,000 litres of oxygen that is also used in ambulatory services for a fleet of 12 vehicles. 

The hospital has been supplying more than 20 cylinders each weighing 70 litres to other health facilities in the region.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae said: “Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020, the demand for affordable and sustainable oxygen supply has been growing in private and public hospitals across the country.”

The county received the first oxygen plant 10 years ago at a cost of Sh16 million. The second one was delivered through partnership of the county and national government. The third plant which is connected to the hospitals’ ICU, newborn unit, HDU and theatre was put up by the county government in 2013-2014 financial year.

The hospital’s Head of Clinical Services Bina Ongaki said 700 litres of oxygen go for Sh3,000, 340 litres cost Sh1,880 while 130 litres Sh1,000. In Siaya, patients consume 30 cylinders of oxygen in a day compared to 20 cylinders before the outbreak of Covid-19.

Isolation unit

David Mwendwa, the oxygen plant manager at the Siaya County Referral Hospital, noted that 30 cylinders of oxygen are used in the wards, other hospitals and the Covid-19 isolation unit.

The Siaya county government is yet to install an oxygen plant. The available one is managed under public and private partnership between Hewatele and the county government.

Busia, Vihiga, Bungoma, Kakamega, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii and Elgeyo Marakwet counties buy the commodity from Siaya.

In Migori, hospitals rely on the county oxygen plant. Public health chief officer Pauline Amollo said the facility has a capacity to produce 1,000 litres of oxygen per day.

In Homa Bay, the County Referral Hospital relies on oxygen cylinders after the oxygen plant malfunctioned. The hospital CEO Lilian Kochola said the plant is undergoing repair.

[Reports by Eric Abuga, Julius Chepkwony, Olivia Odhiambo, Mactilda Mbenywe, Anne Atieno, Lydiah Nyawira and James Omoro]

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