The government of the United Kingdom Wednesday officially handed over 100 oxygen cylinders to Uganda’s National Medical Stores, to provide lifesaving treatment to COVID-19 patients in Uganda.
The support is part of the £500,000 (over $708,000) that the UK committed to UNICEF Uganda’s COVID-19 appeal in July 2021.
The money, which was provided to rapidly increase Uganda’s oxygen delivery capacity and build its production capability, went towards the procurement of one hundred 7,500-litre oxygen cylinders for Mulago National Referral Hospital, Namboole COVID-19 Treatment Centre, Soroti Regional Referral Hospital, Mbale Regional Referral Hospital and Moroto Regional Referral Hospital as well as the provision of operational support to 4 oxygen plants for 3 months.
The funding will also enable the procurement, installation and maintenance of a new oxygen plant, in Kayunga Referral Hospital, and provide training and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to COVID-19 treatment units in Arua, Mbale, Soroti and Moroto.
This will also increase the intensive care capacity of health care workers and ensure effective use of the equipment, as well as protect health care workers as they treat the sick, supporting everyone.
The official handover ceremony was attended by Andrew Ockenden, The British High Commission’s Development Director, UNICEF Uganda Country Representative, Dr. Mohamed El Munir A. Safieldin and the General Manager of the National Medical Stores Mr. Moses Kamabare.
The UK Development Director Andrew Ockenden said, “The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge and the UK continues to be at the forefront of efforts to tackle it. We are pleased to have been able to provide this immediate support to help the Ugandan health system cope with the ongoing wave of cases, saving lives and strengthening the health care systems for the future”.
The UNICEF Representative in Uganda Dr. M. Munir A. Safieldin said, “Access to oxygen can be the difference between life and death for patients with severe COVID-19. It is also a critical treatment for mothers with birth complications, sick newborns, and children with pneumonia, which remains the leading infectious disease which still kills a child every 39 seconds (globally), despite being preventable and treatable”.
He said the Government of Uganda and UNICEF Uganda are grateful for the support from the UK Government, adding that the oxygen will help save the lives of thousands of patients.
In Uganda the UK has also donated test kits and supplied PPE, provided training and helped deliver messaging on COVIID-19 prevention, helped children continue learning through the provision of distance learning lessons, provided media training to help counter misinformation and ensure accurate COVID-19 reporting and funded two COVID-19 Isolation rooms at home for children suffering from cancer in Kampala.
It was also one of the first countries to back COVAX and to date has committed £548 million to ensure global access to vaccines and has consistently called on other donors to step up their support.
Through the COVAX equitable access facility, Uganda has received over 1 million Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccines.