Greater Masaka Region is in crisis after the only oxygen manufacturing plant at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital broke down.
The crisis has caused panic among health authorities not only at the regional referral but also in other hospitals and health units that depend on the plant for oxygen. The breakdown comes amidst an increase in hospital admissions for Coronavirus Disease (COVID19) patients.
According to Dr Nathan Onyach, the Director of Masaka Hospital, the plant broke down on Saturday, yet without oxygen support, many of the people suffering from COVID-19 cannot make it. In just two weeks, Masaka region has lost nine people while nine others are still in High Dependency Units (HDU) where they are being supported to breathe.
Onyach explains that they were forced to get oxygen cylinders from Kampala to save the lives of COVID-19 patients who need oxygen support to avoid suffocation and swelling of the lungs. The hospital uses 40 cylinders every day to sustain support for COVID patients.
He, however, hopes that by Sunday, the plant will be back to full operation and be able to supply oxygen to other hospitals that are treating COVID patients. He also appealed to the public to observe the Standard Operation Procedures to lessen the hospital’s burden amid the oxygen crisis.
Patrick Ssekidde, the Rakai Hospital Administrator explains that they currently have six cylinders in place, yet they need more to be able to manage the oxygen consumption at the hospital. He however says that the majority of COVID-19 patients in the facility are on home-based care and none is on oxygen support.
However, Richard Bantubalamu, the Kalisizo hospital administrator, says that they get their oxygen cylinders from National Medical Stores (NMS) and are not reliant on the Masaka plant.
He explains that they are still hopeful they will get more oxygen cylinders in the ongoing arrangement by the Ministry of Health to supply additional medical equipment including oxygen concentrators. According to Bantubalamu, they have been advised to write to NMS seeking the said equipment.