More succumb to acute oxygen shortage

21 June 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

Namibia’s Covid-19 battle is now characterised by critically ill patients gasping for air as they line up in desperate need of oxygen, for which there is currently a wild-eyed demand.

This to such an extent that private hospitals have reached out citizens, asking for oxygen machines.

Across the country, most Covid-19 patients are in a desperate situation grappling for oxygen, leaving them with little option but to rely on relatives to search for the life-saving commodity which often costs an arm and a leg.

On top of this crisis, supplies of personal protective equipment as well as oxygen masks are running at out some health facilities, forcing staff to recycle them.

At the country’s most overwhelmed testing facility, oxygen and nebuliser masks were hung out to dry in the sun because the autoclave machine is currently out of use.

Meanwhile, the situation in Rehoboth has seen a stampede for oxygen over the weekend, and as a result, social media was flooded with requests for oxygen machines.

A senior nurse who spoke to Namibian Sun off the record said nurses are infected at the overwhelmed hospitals and are testing positive for the virus “every single day”.

According to this nurse, some facilities in Keetmanshoop have a critical shortage of basic protective gear such as surgical masks and gloves.

Some relief

According to health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe, the situation has been addressed; however, oxygen remains a challenge.

“Particularly in Rehoboth, patients who required oxygen were moved to a section in the hospital that is connected to the oxygen-generating system. Of course, we are also providing bottled oxygen and oxygen cylinders in health facilities. But the demand is high and the suppliers are also bringing oxygen from South Africa.”

According to him, the installation of a bulk oxygen tank at a Katutura referral hospital has brought some relief.

Nangombe was also aware of the recycling of tools at health facilities, including the Robert Mugabe Covid-19 testing centre.

However, he added that these practices are done according to approved standards and some of the items are re-usable.

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