At a panel hosted by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in the USA and the Clinton Health Access initiative, health leaders explained that the Covid-19 outbreak has uncovered a critical gap in the world’s oxygen supply that has led to a million preventable deaths a year.
Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Former US President Bill Clinton moderated the panel, attended by Anthony Fauci and two African healthcare leaders.
CLINTON: HEALTH INEQUALITY AT EXTREMELY LARGE SIZES
“No one should die from lack of oxygen, regardless of where they live or their income. This is a situation we can easily diagnose, treat affordably and prevent it globally. If you live in a wealthy country, having too little oxygen in your blood can be avoided because doctors have the tools and training to treat, but this is now very limited due to the corona virus. In other parts of the world, the consequence of this is still death. For this reason, we currently have a very large health equity crisis, which is clearly aggravated by Covid-19, “he said.
FAUCI: THIS SITUATION HAS NEVER BEEN HIT ON SWIMMING THIS BEFORE
Referring to the statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Fauci said that 500,000 neonatal deaths each year are due to the lack of available medical oxygen, and 40 percent of adult and child pneumonia deaths could be prevented by better access to oxygen.
Fauci said, “We are facing an extraordinary problem that needs to be addressed. I have been practicing medicine for 40 years and the thought of lack of oxygen never crossed my mind until I suddenly hit my face when I saw the shortage in the USA. It has never been in my face like this. In the USA this is low and medium. Think about what is happening in countries with income, “he said.
THE PROBLEM GOES BEYOND OXYGEN DEFICIENCY
On the other hand, Director of the African Center for Disease Control, Dr. Nkengasong said, “Before the Covid-19 outbreak, there were only 68 oxygen-producing plants in the African continent, consisting of 55 member states where 1.2 billion people live,” and stated that the number of plants increased by 40 percent in the middle of the pandemic. But while the increase is promising, challenges remain, such as sustaining and providing continuous and predictable funding to support these oxygen facilities on the continent, ”Nkengasong explained.
On the other hand, Joy Phumaphi, former Botswana Minister of Health and Co-Chair of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Panel on Independent Responsibility for Women, Child and Adolescent Health, said that the problem goes beyond the lack of oxygen:
“One of the biggest challenges is the misdiagnosis or being unable to truly diagnose patients with low blood oxygen. We think that 80 percent of the patients with low blood oxygen could not be detected due to the limited test possibilities. Whereas, tools like pulse oximeters are fairly simple tools. “Healthcare professionals also need to be trained in diagnosis and equipped with pulse oximeters.”
THE PROBLEM WILL CONTINUE
On the other hand, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Clinton Health Access Initiative are trying to bring these pulse oximeters globally to five African countries that account for nearly a third of hypoxemia cases, and make high-quality medical oxygen available to hospitals in these regions.
According to the groups’ recommendation, in the pilot projects currently underway, the proportion of hypoxemic (suffering from respiratory failure) children receiving oxygen has doubled in the Nigerian and Ethiopian hospital.
On the other hand, the panellists said the problem, which does not require a massive attempt to resolve, will continue until there is a specific commitment to address it in the form of policy changes, infrastructure development and financing.
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