The ministry of Health has cautioned administrators at the refurbished and upgraded Kayunga regional referral hospital to handle with utmost care the new oxygen plant and desist from corrupt tendencies of selling of oxygen to private facilities.
Speaking at the commissioning of the $500,000 (Shs 1.7 billion) pressure swing absorption oxygen plant last week, the director-general of health services in the ministry of Health, Dr Joseph Okware said government expects proper and timely accountability, better management and budgeting for oxygen which now should be considered as an essential supply just like medicines and other sundries.
"Medical oxygen is a life-saving commodity, and the lack of which can lead to severe complication and death as everybody knows now not just the medical people...But as we continue improving the supply of oxygen, we need to address the constraints at the service provider level which contribute to lack of oxygen and abuse of oxygen and irrational use of oxygen...there are gaps of accountability of oxygen just like we have issues in accountability of blood," he said.
Adding: "This oxygen is gas, it is going to be packed in cylinders but chairman, the board, the director, accountability, because this oxygen is similar to what is being useduse elsewhere, these cylinders can grow legs, you're not far from Kampala. There are other private facilities that will offer money, non-reporting or partial reporting but we're monitoring through the dashboard in Kampala...We should do things differently, this business of saying this is Uganda, this Africa, we cannot maintain anything we shouldn't allow to happen again."
The plant was donated by UKaid through UNICEF and is similar to other plants procured and installed in Soroti, Kabale and Masaka regional referral hospitals. Manufactured by NOVAIR in France, the double filtration oxygen plant is capable of filling up to 140 oxygen cylinders every 24 hours at 95 per cent purity - above the recommended 90 per cent mark and has low power consumption and can backup power to continue manufacturing during power outages or surges.
It is suitable to provide oxygen surgical and ICU services and can serve neighbbouring districts of Buvuma, Jinja, Luwero, Kamuli, Kayunga, Mukono and Nakasongola. The facility is already even providing oxygen to Mulago Women's referral hospital in Kampala.
Unicef health specialist, Dr Flavia Mpanga Kaggwa said COVID-19 exposed the oxygen gap that many hospitals and government had long ignored yet oxygen is critical in health services and treatment especially to newly born children, children with severe pneumonia, TB patients, mothers with delivery complications among others.
She said the government must already start thinking about how they are going to sustain these plants in two years' time because the new oxygen plants need proper servicing and maintenance if they are not to follow the same breakdown fate of the old plants.
"Please maintain this equipment because it is expensive. It has done a commendable job for you already and you're even supplying the Women's Hospital in Kampala which is commendable but please maintain this equipment. After the 2-year warranty period is over, we'll be back to see how you have maintained the plant," she said.