PATH accelerates strong and sustainable systems for oxygen access

April 26, 2023 by PATH

New $23.1 million funding commitment to help improve access to medical oxygen and respiratory care services in ten countries

PATH is leading a new US$23.1 million investment—funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The ELMA Foundation—to increase equitable access to high-quality respiratory care services at all levels of the health care system and, ultimately, save and improve the lives of thousands.

The Strengthening Oxygen Utilization and Respiratory Care Ecosystems (SOURCE) project supports the efforts led by ten countries—Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zambia—to reinforce oxygen and respiratory care systems as necessary components of national health care systems, pandemic preparedness, and global health architecture.

This work builds on the COVID-19 Respiratory Care Response Coordination project, which supported national efforts to develop and execute a respiratory care plan to meet the demands of COVID-19. It is also in direct alignment with the Increasing Access to Medical Oxygen resolution recommended by the World Health Organization Executive Board for adoption at the upcoming 76th World Health Assembly next month.

“To address oxygen access gaps during COVID-19, the government of Kenya pursued key infrastructure improvements, including installation of oxygen generation plants and piping in various health facilities, and purchasing of oxygen cylinders,” said Mr. Richard Gatukui, Kenya Ministry of Health, Department of Health Products and Technologies. “Our focus now is on long-term policies, safety measures, capacity-building, and reporting tools to address the sustainability of the oxygen ecosystem, and we look forward to our continued collaboration with PATH to implement that work.”

SOURCE leads a robust set of global and country-level implementation activities, including support of capacity-building and implementation to strengthen the oxygen system from production to delivery, advocacy to elevate oxygen to national and global agendas, and enhanced research and learning to build an evidence base for effective planning and management of oxygen systems.

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the limited availability of oxygen therapy across the globe. Over the last two and a half years, countries have made great strides in rapidly scaling up access to oxygen as a critical treatment for COVID-19,” said Lisa Smith, Portfolio Director of Access to Medical Devices and Project Director of SOURCE. “And now the medical oxygen landscape is at a pivotal point where short-term pandemic response efforts require continued support while transitioning to long-term, sustained strategies and systems for ensuring access.”

This project helps identify national oxygen needs and strategies to meet the demand, mobilizes adequate financing, supports sustainable oxygen investments, and equips technicians and health workers with the skills needed to provide oxygen safely. It also engages stakeholders at all levels to prioritize oxygen delivery as one of the most effective ways to save lives, especially among newborns, children, and women.

“This collaboration continues to assist our country partners to identify and address existing oxygen gaps, build resilient oxygen infrastructure across the entire health system, and be better prepared to respond to pandemics in the future,” said Dr. Nanthalile Mugala, PATH’s Chief of the Africa Region. “Aligning with PATH’s focus on health equity, our vision is that all patients, regardless of where they live, have access to the lifesaving oxygen they need.”

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