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"Ghana is now prepared to overcome oxygen challenges" - Frema Osei Opare

Chief of Staff, Frema Osei Opare says Ghana is now prepared to overcome oxygen challenges following the launch on National Medical Oxygen Policy.

According to her, with this new policy, Ghana is ready to deal with issues which confronted the country during the covid-19 period due to global oxygen shortages.

Speaking at the launch of National Medical Oxygen Policy in Accra on Tuesday, she said "I consider it an honour to be a part of the launch of the National Medical Oxygen Policy. I had the privilege to launch the oxygen plant to produce oxygen for the 37 Military and Komfo Anokye Hospital"

She also revealed that the policy was meant to ensure self-sufficiency in the supply of medical oxygen across the country.

Explaining further she hinted the the medical oxygen was an indispensable medical commodity that requires a holistic approach for safe production and supply.

"It is therefore delightful to acknowledge the significant effort made by the Ministry of Health and its stakeholders towards the formulation of the National Medical Oxygen Policy"

"Permit me to applaud the great efforts of the Minister of Health and his staff. The oxygen suppliers and producers and all stakeholders who contributed towards the development of this policy."

"As stated by his Excellency in his state of the nation address in April said 'Universal Health Coverage must become a reality for all Ghanaians and not a slogan. For every Ghanaian deserves good health"

"This called for the provision and expansion of priority healthcare infrastructure to increase access to healthcare across the country"

Ahe also mentioned that per the new policy, hospitals will now be constructed  with adequate facilities for medical oxygen supply, distribution and delivery to patient bed side while existing facilities will be equipped with the needed medical gas piping.

"The government will ensure that hospitals with bed capacity of 100 or more are well resourced to produce oxygen on site or resourced with liquid oxygen system to increase availability and access to medical oxygen"

"To achieve this, the government will ensure the creation of an enabling environment for local production of liquid and gaseous medical grades of oxygen in commercial quantity to make medical oxygen affordable"

She assured that other health facilities will be equipped with the oxygen resources according to their needs.

"Government will track the medical oxygen space to ensure continuous improvement towards the achievement of self- achievement in medical oxygen in Ghana"

"I want to urge all health facilities both public and private to adopt government's digitalization agenda to effectively maintain and manage data on oxygen resources in order to prevent shortages of medical oxygen"

On his part, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu said "The availability of medical oxygen is not a challenge that can be solved by a single entity or organization. It requires a collective effort from government, healthcare providers, manufacturers, and the international community. We must act swiftly and decisively to bridge the gap between oxygen supply and demand"

"Access to quality health care is a fundamental human right enshrined in our constitution (1992 Constitution). The Government is committed to the achievement of the SDGs. My Ministry is committed and leaving no one in unturned to achieve that. Number of activities have been initiated to enable all people in Ghana have timely access to high quality health services irrespective of ability to pay at the point of use"

He stressed that timely access to high quality health services cannot be achieved where the devices, commodities or technologies required to provide the services are absent or inadequate.

"Ghana has come a long way in improving the health service delivery but there is more to be done"

"During the Covid-19 pandemic, it became clear to all of us that medical oxygen is a health commodity that cannot be underestimated, if Universal Health Coverage is to be achieved"

"National Medical Oxygen Policy, to establish the framework and lay the foundation for a national strategy for scaling-up the production, availability, access and use of medical oxygen across the country"

"It is worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to light, the inadequacies in the production capacity, supply management, distribution and rational use of medical oxygen, not only in Ghana but globally"

"The pandemic increased medical oxygen demand by about three (3) to seven (7) folds. It also brought to the fore, the need to strengthen the health system to make it more resilient and responsive, by progressively developing national capacity in producing key health inputs, including medical oxygen"

He stressed that patients with conditions resulting in low oxygen level in their blood (medically referred to as Hypoxemia) is a common condition and if treatment delays can easily result in death.

"Some of these conditions include respiratory diseases which accountßfor 15.5% of deaths across all ages in 2020 in our health facilities and approximately 16.5% of deaths in children under five (5) years. It is reported that there are about 5,000 pneumonia-related deaths annually in newborn and children under five (5) years in Ghana"

"Pneumonia is the third (Yd) highest cause of death in children under five (5) years in Ghana. Studies have also shown that improved supply and utilization of medical oxygen in the healthcare setting has the potential to reduce mortality from childhood pneumonia by 35%"

"Medical oxygen is classified as an essential medicine which must beje regulated to ensure its availability, access, safety and quality for medical use. The National Medical Oxygen Policy therefore seeks to provide a strategic framework for the practice and regulation of the production, procurement, distribution and use of medical oxygen, in a bid to reduce mortality and morbidity from hypoxemia"

World Health Organization (WHO) Representative, Dr. Francis Chisaka Kasolo said "Oxygen is a vital resource in healthcare, particularly in the treatment of respiratory illnesses and emergencies"

He noted that its availability is crucial in saving lives and providing necessary care to those in need.

"Unfortunately, in recent times, the world has witnessed the dire consequences of oxygen scarcity, making it imperative for us to discuss this pressing issue"

"It is not just any Oxygen but medical oxygen that is a key commodity in providing quality care to save lives. It is a lifeline for patients suffering from respiratory insufficient due to trauma or respiratory conditions, such as pneumonia, asthma,

chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Recently during the global COVID-19 pandemic we all saw how important medical oxygen is in sustaining lives"

Some institutions were rewarded for their immense contribution to the country during the covid-19 period.

Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith



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