The World Health Organisation (WHO) has supplied a duplex pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plant to a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Taking place on 17th March, the plant was handed over by Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative and Head of Missions to Somalia. The EU-funded plant was provided as part of its ongoing support for the emergency response to Covid-19 in the country. 

With front-line organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières declaring medical oxygen as the most vital component of an effective Covid-19 response, the pandemic has exposed major weaknesses in the global medical oxygen supply chain and existing infrastructure. 

Installation of the new plant – at the De Martino Hospital in Mogadishu – attempts to contribute to WHO’s vision to build an ‘inclusive and equitable’ health system post-Covid-19. 

As the country’s dedicated Covid-19 patient healthcare centre, the De Martino hospital will utilise the new plant to provide up to 25 intensive care patients with vital oxygen, while another unit refills cylinders. 

“Together, they can fill 100 40-litre oxygen cylinders in a day,” said H.E. Fawziya Abikar Nur, Federal Minister of Health and Human Services in Somalia. 

“This support is part of a strategic roadmap to boost oxygen supply in hospitals across the country.” 

Though essential for treating severe cases of Covid-19, medical oxygen is a key tool for treating other critical conditions such as pneumonia and trauma, while also providing support during childbirth. 

According to Malik, in 2018 pneumonia was estimated to kill around two children aged under five every hour in Somalia. 

“Global evidence shows that simple medical oxygen can reduce up to 35% of child deaths. It is so crucial and yet has no substitute,” he added. 

As the worst of the pandemic begins to abate, WHO is using a two-pronged approach to offering medical oxygen – while offering medical oxygen to health facilities and the Government, the organisation is also training healthcare workers, biomedical engineers and technicians in using the installed plants. 

Two additional PSA plants are under deployment in Garowe and Hargeisa, also in Somalia.