The unsung heroes behind the life-sustaining oxygen
Working tirelessly day and night to ensure oxygen is always available to save lives.
On 22 February, the first ever oxygen plant procured and installed by UNICEF in Sudan was launched at El Geneina Teaching Hospital in West Darfur. The new plant is providing a reliable supply of medical oxygen to the El-Geneina Teaching Hospital as well as other health facilities in the state with the capacity to fill 120 twenty litre cylinders daily.
Behind this success are all the unsung heroes who worked tirelessly day and night to ensure oxygen was always available to save lives.
Firdos Mohamed is a medical engineer. She is one of the few engineers supporting the operation of the oxygen plant. Her job is to ensure the oxygen plant operates smoothly and that all cylinders are stored safely. To her, the new oxygen plant is ground-breaking.
“Before UNICEF installed this oxygen plant, we received all our oxygen from Khartoum, which is about 1,500 kilometres away from the city of El Geneina. With this new oxygen plant, we can provide reliable source of oxygen supply in the hospital as well as in the West Darfur state,” said Firdos.
As the new oxygen plant launched, Firdos also received training on how to operate the system and fill the cylinders safely. Every six months, she will receive refresher trainings from technical experts who provide maintenance to the facility.
Ibrahim Mohamed Yahia is a casual labourer who has worked in the hospital for 25 years. Day-in, day-out, he delivers cylinders filled with life-saving oxygen to patients and other health facilities. Although it is a physically challenging task, he makes sure every ward receives the quantity they need.
“With my strong arms and hands, I am like a small vehicle which carries oxygen to those who need it,” said Ibrahim.
With the oxygen plant launched, the second stage will be to build an uninterrupted oxygen network which will provide oxygen directly to the wards. Once it is completed, it will lessen the burden on Ibrahim.
Adam Zakaina is an operation surgeon. With as many as 10 operations a day, oxygen is a matter of life and death for his patients.
“Without oxygen, we cannot perform any operation. During anaesthesia, we make sure oxygen is available throughout.”
In the past, there were periods when oxygen was out-of-stock, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. When this happened, the hospital purchased oxygen from private sources or other hospitals. “With this new oxygen plant, we can avoid stock outs,” says Adam.
To make sure oxygen is handled and breathed safely, Adam and his colleagues also benefited from compulsory training on the use of oxygen. With equipment and knowledge, oxygen becomes breath that sustains lives.
Abram Girgis is UNICEF’s construction engineer. He worked closely with the Federal Ministry of Health to make sure the oxygen plant met all the requirements during installation. “There are many requirements including ventilation, electricity, air conditioning and specification for locations. I am glad that the Federal Ministry of Health worked closely with us in identifying the best location for the plant,” Abram shared.
UNICEF expresses its sincere gratitude to all our donors. Your support has allowed all unsung heroes on the ground to deliver the much needed oxygen to the patients who desperately need it.
Read more: Between life and death: Children struggling to breath have some hope to live
Update as of May 2023: The oxygen plant procured and installed by UNICEF at El Geneina Teaching Hospital in West Darfur was damaged and destroyed due to the ongoing armed conflict. UNICEF is working tirelessly to deliver lifesaving supplies to the affected population.