On the occasion of World Pneumonia Day, on November 12, UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore highlighted the coronavirus factor and noted that “as the world grapples with the pandemic and the dire consequences it will have for the most vulnerable, we are The eye that pneumonia still claims more than 2,000 young lives every day. ”
Every breath counts
UNICEF pointed out that medical oxygen, in combination with antibiotics, can save the lives of many children suffering from severe pneumonia.
However, the cost can be prohibitive for the poorest families, as can access to health facilities with functioning oxygen supplies and trained health workers – all of which are scarce in poorer countries.
The pandemic has also increased demand, making the shortages even greater.
Fortunately, oxygen can be produced locally, even in remote parts of the world, at an affordable cost. An important part of the UNICEF COVID-19 response is to provide oxygen concentrators, devices that take in air from the environment, remove nitrogen and produce a continuous source of oxygen.
Last Wednesday, UNICEF had delivered 15,188 oxygen concentrators to 93 countries.
“Medical oxygen can help save some of these lives,” stressed Ms Fore.
One size does not fit all
However, the answer isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
Some facilities may have available oxygen facilities, cylinder delivery networks, and reliable power sources to use a concentrator, while others may not.
And some areas are facing import restrictions on certain health services, or shrinking health budgets and rising prices set by oxygen suppliers.
To address this, UNICEF is working with governments and partners on unique country solutions, typically using a mix of oxygen sources from cylinders, concentrators, plants and liquid oxygen.
The UN agency’s response has been global, swift and multifaceted as it has provided medical oxygen to more than 90 countries to help combat COVID-19 and keep children and newborns with pneumonia alive.
Oxygen is the answer
While it can be difficult to offer this complex product, especially in rural environments where electricity, infrastructure and essential health equipment can be scarce, UNICEF has noted a global policy change.
In the past year, governments, donors, UN agencies and partners have come to recognize the importance of this vital drug in helping people recover from pneumonia, whether caused by COVID-19 or not. UNICEF is calling on everyone to “step up efforts to bring life to those who fight for breath.”
UNICEF Country Initiatives
- Peru: Providing oxygen concentrators to help indigenous communities.
- Senegal: Together with the government, provide oxygen to 64 health facilities in regions with high rates of pneumonia.
- Malawi: Helped to set up an oxygen generating facility at Kamuzu Central Hospital, which helped build a new “oxygen ecosystem” for the country.
- Sierra Leone: Investing in renovating and installing oxygenating plants.
- Bangladesh: Expansion of oxygen systems to prevent newborn deaths.
- India: Invests in more than 3,000 oxygen concentrators with the government to support the fight against COVID-19.
World Health Organisation