Oxygen bank for Covid patients

10 June 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

Amid an unprecedented nationwide surge in Covid-19 cases that has led to a high demand for oxygen, the health ministry says it is in the process of setting up oxygen concentrator banks at Windhoek Central and Onandjokwe hospitals.

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula this week announced that Covid-19 isolation and intensive care units are occupied between 67% and 100% on any given day, which has forced the ministry to adopt swift decongestion measures to ease the burden on the struggling public health system.

Shangula said “the ministry has increased the supply of oxygen and is in the process of constructing oxygen generating banks at the Windhoek Central and Onandjokwe hospitals, while the Katutura Hospital respiratory unit and Oshakati hospitals are being provided with oxygen tanks”.

“The number of deaths has far surpassed the figures estimated in the Disease Estimates Projection Model that indicated that Namibia would have recorded 834 deaths due to Covid-19 during 2020 and 2021.

“In the last two weeks, Namibia reported 5 761 new confirmed cases and 147 deaths. By any measure, these numbers are alarming. Increased hospitalisations are placing immense pressure on the healthcare system with respect to available personnel, facilities, equipment, supplies and commodities.

“There is an observed high demand for oxygen and personal protective equipment [PPE]. Consistent and high-quality supply of oxygen is critical to saving lives,” he said.

With the new outbreak exerting enormous pressure on the country’s health personnel and facilities, the ministry has also decided to recruit more health personnel for isolation facilities and several hospital wards, as well as expanded spaces to cater to Covid-19 patients in need of hospitalisation and care.

Third wave

The third wave is believed to be driven by the South African variant which has killed more than 40 people in just seven days, leaving the country’s mortuaries filled to the brim and families forced to speed up burials of their loved ones.

There has also been a significant spike in the number of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions in the country’s hospitals, which are currently full to capacity, with many hospitals turning sick patients away while prioritising those in need of oxygen.

“We have acquired clinical supplies and medical equipment, more PPEs and other logistical items to deal with the current wave. As an ongoing activity, the ministry will recruit additional healthcare workers, expand infrastructure, improve and increase oxygen generation and supplies, procure more supplies and commodities - including PPEs, essential medicines, vaccines and other essential items. More efforts will also be exerted on community engagement activities,” Shangula said.

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