In an attempt to augment the accessibility of medical oxygen in Nigeria and a healthier preservation of COVID-19 vaccine,On Tuesday in Borno ,the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) launched a 2.3 million dollar project.
The project was officially launched on Tuesday by Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno which is funded by the government of Japan, implemented by UNOPS and subsistence by the North East Development Commission (NEDC).
At the event in Abuja, Gov. Zulum commended the Japanese government for the support to Borno and the North East it was held virtually and physically.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the project, which has a delivery period of 12 months will directly benefit nine hospitals and 139 Primary Health Centres in Borno.
Illuminating on details into the project, the UNOPS office in Nigeria in a presentation, mentioned that the purpose of the project was to build up healthcare provision and reach reliable calibre of medical care. It is said that the project is in tandems with Japan’s diplomatic policies in Nigeria, additionally with the National Strategy for the scale-up of Medical Oxygen in health facilities (2017 to 2022) and devote to attaining the Sustaining developmental Goals (SDGs).
Two medical oxygen plants will be constructed, one each in the State Specialist Hospital Maiduguri and the Biu General Hospital, as stated in the presentation concerning the project. The Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria Shinozawa Takayuki, who joined virtually made known the commitment of the Japanese government to the project, in which 23 Primary healthcare centres will be equipped with Solar Direct Drive Vaccine Refrigerators. In his declaration, the United Nations Resident Commission, Edward Kaloon made a remark that the plants were indeed a necessity in view of the continuous demand for oxygen prompted by COVID-19.
He mentioned that COVID-19 and other related respiratory illnesses exposed systemic weakness in the worldwide health systems as health facilities were challanged with high risk of not having enough supply of oxygen.
“Statistics show that every year 4.2 million children suffer from severe pneumonia in lower and mid income countries including Nigeria. “Therefore, this investment is timely and highly needed, especially in Borno and other parts of North East.
“The two oxygen plants which will be construction by UNOPS will complement all other interventions to greatly improve COVID-19 severe case management system, build resilience of the health system and improve emergency health delivery in the state.
“Thus Borno state will be better equipped to treat children with respiratory illnesses and respond to COVID-19,” he said.
He therefore said that the project would facilitate the execution of the National policy of Medical Oxygen and would assist to saving the lives of patients in Nigeria including lives of up to 120,000 under-five children annually. While imploring for the security of all those who will be manning the project, Kaloon thanked the government of Japan for the assistance which was an undeniable contributing factor. The UNOPS Director in Nigeria Ifeoma Charles-Monwuba, emphasised on how oxygen was a life-saving medical gas which “is used for the treating illnesses and meeting other health system needs”. She pointed out that the project was timely as demand for oxygen was on the increase: “There is an increasing demand for medical oxygen, therefore this project will scale up oxygen storage and expand vaccine storage capacity of health centres.” “In UNOPS, we believe that we are well-positioned to drive an extensive oxygen response and increasing the capacity of health facilities to meet the desperate need of oxygen therapy.
“We will continue to work with key stakeholders in the implementation of this project and we look for additional engagement with state regulatory bodies,” she said.
NAN reports that the project however does not cover distribution infrastructure to transport oxygen to other healthcare facilities and biomedical equipment such as cylinders, masks. The project also howbeit does not cover distribution and installation of the solar refrigerators to the recipient healthcare facilities.