Borno Hospitals Get 2 Oxygen Plants, 23 Solar Refrigerators from Japan

As government hails NEDC other partners’ facilitation efforts.

By Abdulkareem Haruna

Two state of the earth medical oxygen plants, and 23 solar-direct refrigerators, a donation from the government of Japan, were Thursday, June 16, 2021, commissioned in two major hospitals in Borno state.

The plants and refrigerators were donated by the government of Japan.

The oxygen plants would be a first of its kind to be owned by the Borno state government.

Deputy Governor of Borno state, Usman Kadafur, who commissioned the oxygen plants and 23 solar-direct refrigerators, on behalf of his principal, Governor Babagana Zulum,  said the donated equipment would go a long way in strengthening.

He commended the Japanese government, the UNOPS and the NEDC for making the development happen.

Borno Deputy Governor Speaking at the commissioning of the twin Oxygene Gas Plant. Video Credit: Abdulkareem/THT

The solar plants were established at the Specialists Hospital Maiduguri and the General Hospital Biu.

The Japanese government made the donation through the United Nations Office for Procurement and Services (UNOPS) who are the implementation partners.

The Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) played a pivotal role for the speedy installation of the facilities by offsetting the Customs duties and other seaport clearance costs of the heavy duties equipment.

MD of the NEDC, Mohammed Alkali, said his commission keyed into the $2.3 million granted donation because it is in line with the healthcare improving niche of NEDC.

The two oxygen plants were provided in response to global threat of pneumonia which is rated the single largest infectious cause of death in children.

It is on record that  in 2018, almost half a million children died of bacterial pneumonia in sub-Saharan Africa. Better access to oxygen and antibiotics could have saved many.

Studies in Nigeria show that less than a third of adults and children who needed oxygen actually got it. Health Centres in particular are becoming more vulnerable without Oxygen plants.

UNOPS project manager, Engineer Atinuke Fakunle, said in an opening remark during the commissioning and handing over of the facility to the facilities that: “At present, Borno State located in North East Nigeria has no functioning oxygen plant.”

She added that the two plants and the solar refrigerators would serve the medical needs of people suffering from pneumonia and other cardiovascular diseases,  especially the children.

The Medical Director of the Borno state Hospital Management Board, Dr Laraba Bello, said before now,  the only functional oxygen plant in the state was  at University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), which is now broken down.

She said health facilities relied on commercial purchase of cylinders and oxygen concentrator machines to cover selected secondary health facilities and this arrangement is inadequate and not cost effective.

She also noted that some of the challenges faced before now  include inadequate piping within selected health facilities and hindrances of transportation to other facilities due to insecurities caused by the insurgencies.

“In relation to this, only 9 out of
438 health centres are able to manage respiratory-related complications,” the CMD said.

A Tour of the Oxygen Plant Interior. Video Credit: Abdulkareem/THT

The Humanitarian Times can report  that the North-East Nigeria Humanitarian Situation Update, about 47% of internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps are congested, leading to poor conditions and
posing significant environmental and sanitation risks. Within the context of COVID-19, the poor living and sanitary conditions for IDPs in North-East Nigeria is having grave
consequences.

It was in this light that  the Nigerian government has in August 2020, turned its priorities to providing oxygen equipment in many facilities, including General Hospitals and larger Primary Health
Centres (PHCS).

UNOPS sai the generous support of the Government of Japan, the current
projects in Maiduguri and Biu LGAs of Borno State will transform the government’s priority into a reality.

Engineer Fakunle said the overall objective of the project is to strengthen healthcare provision, build resilience of health systems in conflict-affected and hard to reach communities, and enable primary healthcare facilities to provide acceptable standards of medical care in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

The activities will seek to address the increasing vulnerability and mortality due to Covid-19, compounded by the insurgency in Borno state.

Speaking interview with The Humanitarian Times, Engineer Fakunle said the facilities  would meet the  objectives of increasing oxygen supply capacity within Borno State to enhance delivery of acceptable standards of medical care in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

“They would expand vaccine storage capacity of health centres to improve child health and management of epidemic-prone diseases affecting children under 5 years.

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