Oxygen is life
Through a consistent flow of medical oxygen, six-month-old Abdulraham is brought back to life
Suwaiba Ali, 35, is ecstatic that her six-month-old baby Abdulrahman can breathe. He was in severe condition due to breathing problems brought on by seizures, and she thinks that the oxygen therapy he received saved him.
“I thought I will lose my son because it was difficult for him to breath. But as soon as the health workers performed the oxygen therapy on him, he improved and became fully conscious” Suwaiba said.
What then happens if there is no oxygen? “Without medical oxygen, chances of survival are limited for people with certain illnesses, such as young children with severe pneumonia and congenital heart problems” says Dr. Salma Ali Suwaid, Head of the emergency pediatric unit at the Murtala Mohammed Specialist hospital in Kano, Nigeria.
Oxygen is a life-saving medical gas used to treat respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and pneumonia, as well as several other health system’s needs, such as newborn care, emergency obstetric care, surgery, and anesthesia. However, there are serious oxygen availability gaps in Nigeria. The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health used the UNICEF Oxygen System Planning Tool to conduct a comprehensive audit of medical oxygen with support from UNICEF, IHS Towers and other partners. The nationwide oxygen audit, which involved over 6000 healthcare facilities across all levels of care, generated reliable data that will direct current and upcoming system-strengthening investments. The Oxygen System Planning Application is a versatile, excel-based program that analyzes data to comprehend demand, system capacity, pinpoint gaps, and determine necessary investments from source to patient.
The significance of medical oxygen was underlined by Dr. Suwaid. "Specific diseases can benefit from oxygen therapy," Dr. Suwaid said.
"Children with severe pneumonia and bronchitis often recover more quickly than those who do not receive oxygen therapy."
To address unmet needs and barriers to an effective and efficient oxygen system, precise data on Nigeria's health system is vital, according to Dr. Adegoke Falade, a professor of pediatrics at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. Since healthcare delivery differs based on context in different locations of Nigeria, the national oxygen gap evaluation will provide an opportunity to identify content-specific issues that need to be addressed for an improved oxygen system in Nigerian healthcare facilities.
The Federal Ministry of Health is already using the audit's findings to direct the distribution of already-bought oxygen equipment, the training of front-line healthcare workers, biomedical engineers, and technicians, as well as the development of a national strategy for the expansion of medical oxygen in healthcare facilities from 2023 to 2027. With assistance from UNICEF and partners, Nigeria will be better able to use the UNICEF oxygen system planning tool to create a dependable and long-lasting medical oxygen system.