The Federal Government has released N6.45bn to set up 38 oxygen plants nationwide to aid in the treatment of critically ill COVID-19 patients.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed disclosed this on Thursday, during the first meeting of the National Economic Council for the year
The NEC meeting was chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
Ahmed explained that President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), approved the release of the funds for the production of oxygen, noting that the approval was necessitated by the increased number of patients in need of oxygen due to the spike in COVID-19 infections across the country.
Recall that President Buhari, had earlier, approved the establishment of at least one oxygen plant in each state to ensure availability of medical oxygen for COVID-19 patients.
This was revealed by the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, in Abuja, during the task force’s media briefing.
According to the SGF, approval was also given for the rehabilitation of five oxygen plants across various tertiary health institutions in Abuja.
Mustapha had during the PTF briefing, attributed the spike in the number of COVID-19 infections in the country to Yuletide festivities.
Lately, the demand for oxygen to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients has doubled in isolation centres across the country.
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, while recently bemoaning the spike in COVID-19 cases due to the ongoing second wave, disclosed that Lagos, being the epicentre of the pandemic, has seen the oxygen demand rise five times from 70 six-litre cylinders per day to 350 six-litre cylinders at Yaba Mainland Hospital alone.
“Over the last few weeks, the demands for oxygen have risen from 70 six-litre cylinders per day to 350 six-litre cylinders in our Yaba Mainland Hospital.
“This is projected to more than double to 750 six-cylinders, before the end of January 2021.
“ln addition to providing oxygen at our isolation centres, the Lagos State Government has decentralised the availability of oxygen across the State through the provision of 10 oxygen and sampling kiosks. Oxygen therapy and other related services will be provided to patients that require them,” Sanwo-Olu stated.
Further explaining why 10 oxygen tents had to be built, he said, “We have seen, unfortunately, the fatality rate around the country, even in Lagos. One of the things we have realised is that a lot more people require oxygen attention, they need additional breathing aid, so we have started building what we call oxygen tents.
“We are building about 10 of such facilities, we have commissioned about four or five of them and we are also building proper oxygen plants, additional oxygen plants in the state so that we can meet the respiratory requirements,” Sanwo-Olu stated
During the activation of the new oxygen plant at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba on January 8, the Lagos Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, via a series of tweets on his verified Twitter handle @ProfAkinAbayomi, disclosed that it was built in collaboration with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in response to the second wave of COVID-19 in Lagos State.
He also explained that the increased demand for oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients in the second wave of the pandemic necessitated activation of oxygen generation capacity and that oxygen from the plant will be administered to patients through cylinders made available at hospital wards.
According to the World Health Organisation, the availability of medical oxygen is crucial to the containment of COVID-19 pandemic, adding that it can help to save the lives of critically ill patients.
The WHO noted that medical oxygen has been a game-changer for the battle against COVID-19, adding that the healthcare product will continue to be important beyond the period of the viral pandemic.
It explained that medical oxygen is high purity oxygen that is used for medical treatments and is developed for use in the human body.
“It is used to provide the basis for virtually all modern anaesthetic techniques.
“It also restores tissue oxygen tension by improving oxygen availability in a wide range of conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – a chronic inflammatory lung infection that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs,” the WHO stated.
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