Ghana launches 5years Medical Oxygen policy to reduce mortalities
A five-year policy to address the shortage of medical oxygen in health facilities and its related deàths across the country, has been launched in Accra.
The “National Medical Oxygen” policy provides a framework for the production, regulation, procurement, distribution and use of medical oxygen in order to reduce mortalities resulting from low level oxygen to the human system.
Currently, Ghana records high level of hypoxemia-related (low level of oxygen in the blood) deaths with about 16 per cent of institutional deaths across all ages attributed to respiratory complications.
For children under five years, an estimated 17 per cent died in 2020 due to respiratory diseases with the country recording at least 5,000 pneumonia-related deaths annually in newborns and children under five.
The Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare launching the policy on Tuesday said it was indicative of Ghana’s readiness to deal with the challenge which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the policy was to ensure self-sufficiency in the supply of medical oxygen across the country which was an indispensable commodity in healthcare delivery.
“As stated by his Excellency, the President, ‘Universal Health Coverage must become a reality for all Ghanaians and not a slogan because every Ghanaian deserves good health.
This calls for the provision and expansion of priority healthcare infrastructure to increase access to healthcare across the country,” she noted.
Mrs Osei-Opare said with 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.
She urged health facilities, both public and private, to adopt the government digitalisation agenda to effectively maintain and manage data on oxygen resources in order to prevent shortages.
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, stressed that timely access to high quality health services could not be achieved where the devices, commodities or technologies required to provide the services are absent or inadequate.
He said, improved supply and utilisation of medical oxygen could reduce mortality from childhood pneumonia by 35 per cent.
“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,” he said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Francis Chisaka Kasolo, said the unavailability of medical oxygen could not be solved by a single entity or organisation.
“It requires a collective effort from the government, healthcare providers, manufacturers and the international community and the WHO is willing to offer all technical support to ensure adequate supply of medical oxygen,” he stated.