The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will build and improve health care infrastructure to support global access to medical oxygen.

In a statement released on Tuesday (21st June), the government agency said it will start spearheading its goals by supporting bulk liquid oxygen in 50 facilities across the globe.

Part of a $50m investment, the move is believed to support more than 20,000 hospital beds, enabling hundreds of thousands of patients to receive life-saving treatment each year.

In addition to the above commitment, USAID has already directly invested a total of $112m in funding since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic for oxygen to support 50 countries.

USAID’s effort further positions the US as the single largest donor to The Global Fund, which has provided more than $600m to help more than 80 lower-middle-income countries increase access to oxygen.

Speaking at gasworld’s medical gases event earlier this year (April 2022), Nikki Tyler of USAID, explained that even before the pandemic, medical oxygen infrastructure was underfunded in low- and middle-income countries.

According to Tyler, 50% of healthcare facilities in Africa do not have reliable access to essential oxygen, with fewer than 20% of healthcare workers trained in oxygen therapy.

“Only in 2017 was oxygen added to the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines,” she revealed.

Oxygen delivery in low- and middle-income countries was also a key focus in gasworld’s most recent medical gases webinar, on which Gareth Pemberton, Director of Innovation at GCE, explained that the market has really changed post-Covid.

Speaking with gasworld, Pemberton explained, “Low- and middle-income countries do not have the same supply chain systems. In countries such as India and Africa, they don’t have the same networks where they can deliver oxygen supply systems.”

To support this, Pemberton said that manufacturers need to be looking at how they can better help gas providers in these countries have the right solutions in their economies.