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Kenyans urged to return medical gas cylinders that are not in use immediately

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is now working towards raising the capacity of medical gas cylinders necessary for the medical attention of coronavirus patients.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe in a press briefing outside Afya House today said, there are inadequate quantities of medical gas cylinders in health facilities.

Close to 20,000 oxygen cylinders are still held up in people’s homes and hospitals, inhibiting the fight against coronavirus pandemic.

This was drawn to his attention after 121 patients lay in the Intensive Care Unit with 32 on ventilator support and 82 on supplemental oxygen.

Kagwe urged Kenyans who are not using the cylinders to return them immediately to their respective plants as well as hospitals.

“I don’t think people are appreciating just how important it is that we don’t just have cylinders lying around when people are dying because of lack of oxygen,” Kagwe pointed out.

Kagwe said that Kenya has 75 oxygen plants but not all are effective and that there are facilities that are using cylinders per patient, contrary to the requirements. As stated by Kagwe, one cylinder can be used by several people if the oxygen is piped to the bedsides.

He said that most of the plants cannot be repaired early enough as their sources are uncertain.

“For example, the oxygen plant in Kenyatta hospital was supplied by the then Slovakian Republic of which the country itself does not exist,” Kagwe added.

The Ministry of Health has proposed to join hands with the county governments to guarantee the standardization of oxygen plants.

In 2020, the demand for oxygen in Kenya was 410 tonnes, in January, it later on raised to 560 tonnes, and it could escalate to 880 tonnes this year, a need that cannot be achieved by the plants that are operational currently.

WHO also says the COVID- 19 pandemic has speeded up the global oxygen demand and made the oxygen supplies delivery crucial, “The need for oxygen has increased to 1.1 million cylinders in low to middle-income countries alone.” WHO declares it is working in the countries that are at risk to improve oxygen supply.

India has reported its worst single-day increase in COVID-19 cases today. A total of 68,020 new coronavirus cases were reported in the last 24 hours making the numbers escalate to more than 12 million for the first time since October 11.

Although Monday’s rise was still below September’s peak of more than 90,000 cases a day, India has been reporting a rise of above the 60,000 mark for three consecutive days.

By Everlyne Bosibori

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