By Emmanuel wise Jipoh
Liberia receives its first-ever medical oxygen plant, as President George Manneh Weah led the official commissioning ceremony here on Tuesday, October 25, at the Ministry of Health in Congo Town, outside Monrovia.
The oxygen manufacturing plant is expected to strengthen the country’s fight against future emerging health threats.
President Weah said the establishment of the plant is timely to protect the health system against future threats, noting that it will help produce hundreds of cylinders of oxygen each day.
He said it represents the CDC-led administration’s commitment to taking more health services to communities to increase access to universal health coverage and protect the population from public health threats.
President Weah lauded the World Health Organization (WHO) through financial supports from the Governments of Germany, the United States and Canada that led to the establishment of the oxygen plant.
He disclosed the establishment and shortly to be completed another plant in Bomi County that will serve health facilities in nearby counties of Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu, respectively.
“I am told that the establishment of this plant is the results of the collaboration of the Government of Liberia (GOL), the World Health Organization (WHO) with financial supports from the Government of the Federation of Germany, the United States and Canada. On behalf of the Government and People of Liberia, I will like to express sincere thanks and appreciation to the governments of these three countries for supporting Liberia in the fight against Covid-19 and strengthening our Health System”, President Weah said.
Besides the two new plants, he pledged government’s commitment to establishing 11 similar facilities throughout the country, noting that these investments in oxygen plants will not only help address any resurgence in the COVID-19 pandemic but importantly serve all hospitals in treating other diseases.
Mr. Weah boasted of Liberia’s progress in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, disclosing that since 2022, no death has been reported nationwide.
However, he cautioned that the coronavirus remains unpredictable, as Liberia continues to record cases with a confirmation of 317 cases recorded in August 2022, and 70 cases recorded of September 2022, and there’s likely that not more than 70 cases will be recorded in October, confirmed by the Ministry of Health.
Liberia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah expressed delight for the laudable achievement, saying “The Ministry of Health will continue to provide affordable and equitable health services to the population.”
Dr. Jallah said as many describes Water is Life, so do Oxygen, because when you need that oxygen and when there’s no oxygen, one ends up dying; therefore, she said Liberia generating its own oxygen is a milestone achievement, reflecting on how people lost their lives in the country because of lack of oxygen.
Speaking further, Dr. Jallah said assessments revealed that Liberia had only three (3) functional Oxygen Plants with the capacity to produce about 30 to 40 cylinders of Oxygen per day, therefore, during the 3rd wave of the Covid-19 Pandemic (June 2021), one patient with critical disease required at least 15 liters of oxygen per day, this means the oxygen production capacity then couldn’t support the treatment of 3-4 critically ill patients per day.
She added that the Government of Liberia and partners acknowledged the critical gap and developed a roadmap to improve the production, distribution and utilization of medical oxygen in Liberia.
Minister Jallah said as a result, the World Health Organization, with support from the regional office for Africa, and headquarters with fundings from German, Canadian and American governments, embarked on the procurement and installation of two PSA Oxygen Plants in Liberia, (Starbase, Bushrod Island and Bomi County).
The Starbase Oxygen Plant has a capacity to produce 100 cylinders (-50Nm 3 hours of medical oxygen per day at 93+3% purity and it’s the largest in the country’s history.
In remarks, USAID Liberia Deputy Mission Director, Rory Donohoe, congratulated Liberia on its successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign, noting that the United States is committed to helping Liberia strengthen its healthcare system to respond in a timely manner to future health shocks. Editing by Jonathan Browne