Juba, 3 July 2020 - the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) today handed over 160 oxygen concentrators to South Sudan's Ministry of Health to support the country in their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 160 oxygen concentrators will be distributed across the country to treat patients requiring oxygen.
Supplemental oxygen is the first essential step for the treatment of severe COVID-19 patients with low blood oxygen levels and should be a primary focus for treatment in countries like South Sudan.
"We are grateful to receive the best type of oxygen concentrators", said Dr Mayen Machut Achiek, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health while receiving the donation certificate. "The 160 oxygen concentrators from the People of Great Britain to the People of South Sudan will be used to treat severely ill patients with respiratory distress at designated COVID-19 treatment health-care facilities".
"We are very pleased that DFID's multilateral contributions to WHO are making a difference in South Sudan", said Chris Trott, British Ambassador to South Sudan. "Preventing transmission of the disease in the first place is key but these oxygen concentrators will be crucial in treating the most severe cases".
Oxygen is usually the first resource to run low during a respiratory emergency. There is a severe shortage of medical oxygen in South Sudan. Bedside oxygen concentrators and the uninterrupted electricity supply required to run them are both scarce in South Sudan.
"COVID-19 has presented an overwhelming public health challenge stretching the already fragile healthcare system in South Sudan", said Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan. "These machines come with the basic accessories for the delivery of oxygen therapy, and if well maintained can be used to save lives from other diseases in the longer term after COVID-19 pandemic".
In a related development, last week, WHO and the Ministry of Health organized a refresher training for 30 trainers selected to cascade COVID-19 training to the states. The main focus of the training was on new developments in the management of COVID-19 patients, of which adequate and timely use of oxygen was central. The participants were also trained on how to use oxygen concentrators and carry out basic maintenance of the machines to enhance long term functionality beyond the COVID-19 pandemic response.
WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and partners have mapped out facilities that will be able to provide adequate isolation and treatment of COVID-19 infected patients and have the requisite power supplies to operate lifesaving oxygen concentrators.
The 160 oxygen concentrators have been procured as part of the national response thanks to a generous multilateral contribution by the Department for International Development (DFID) to WHO. The UK has so far pledged £764 million of aid to support the global effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including funding to the WHO and significant support in the race to find a vaccine.