Breath of Life: Oxygen Plant Transforms Healthcare at Lodwar County Referral Hospital

by Amref Health Africa

In a momentous event, Mission Director David Gosney from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) presided over the inauguration of a cutting-edge Pressure Swing Adoption Oxygen Generating Plant at Lodwar County Referral Hospital (LCRH) in Turkana County.

The occasion was graced by the presence of Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai and Amref Health Africa’s County Director, Dr Meshack Ndirangu, among other dignitaries.

“The new oxygen plant is making a huge difference here in Turkana,” said Dismas Iroye, Senior Biomedical Engineer at Lodwar County Referral Hospital. “It is the only plant in Turkana, so we were in a difficult position before we had it.”

Before the plant’s installation, the hospital faced challenges in providing sufficient oxygen supply. “We had to buy oxygen 3-4 times a week from 300 kilometres away,” explained Peter Ngunjiri, a nurse in the operating theatre. “We frequently had to postpone elective operations and refer emergencies. This new plant will save many lives.”

The USAID-funded oxygen plant is a milestone achievement for the people of Turkana County, particularly for mothers and children, whose lives will now be significantly impacted by improved access to medical-grade oxygen. This essential resource is vital in treating various respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia, malaria, and tuberculosis, and in providing critical care.

“The oxygen from this new plant saved my baby girl’s life,” shared Akiru Ewesit, who delivered her baby eight weeks preterm at Lodwar County Referral Hospital. “She is getting stronger daily, but I know she would not be with me without it.”

During his speech, Mission Director David Gosney expressed optimism about the oxygen plant’s positive impact on the region’s public health. He emphasised that the plant would play a pivotal role in enhancing patient outcomes, especially in treating respiratory-related conditions, and significantly reduce the mortality rates at the hospital.

Dr Epem Joseph, the CEO of Lodwar County Referral Hospital, also highlighted the positive changes the oxygen plant has brought to the healthcare facility. He shared that the hospital has experienced a remarkable improvement in critical care and reduced overall mortalities since the plant’s installation.

Previously, the hospital had to spend a substantial amount on transporting oxygen from distant locations like Kitale, and at times, they couldn’t afford to bear this financial burden. During those challenging times, USAID Imarisha Jamii stepped in to assist the LCRH by providing and transporting oxygen from Eldoret/Kitale.

However, with the new oxygen plant now operational, the hospital is no longer reliant on external assistance, and it has significantly curtailed the financial burden of oxygen transportation allowing the hospital to allocate its resources more efficiently toward providing better healthcare services to the community.

Amref Health Africa, through their Hewa Mashinani initiative, has played a vital role in providing oxygen cylinders for the Oxygen Generating Plant in Turkana County. With the successful installation and operation of the plant, the hospital now has a stable and reliable source of oxygen. This initiative has significantly strengthened the overall healthcare system in Turkana County, ensuring that the referral facility has the crucial resource for treating patients effectively, especially during emergencies and critical care situations.

Turkana County, unfortunately, has been grappling with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Kenya. However, with the establishment of this oxygen plant, there is renewed hope for expectant mothers in the region. The availability of medical-grade oxygen within the county will enable healthcare facilities to manage complicated cases during labour, reducing the need for higher-level referrals. This development is expected to improve maternal survival rates in Turkana significantly.

In addition to Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai’s support for the project, the collaborative efforts of USAID, the Turkana County Government, and Amref Health Africa through the “Imarisha Jamii” Project have brought about a transformative change in healthcare services. The successful commissioning of the USAID-funded oxygen plant at LCRH stands as a testament to the power of partnerships and sustainable solutions in positively impacting communities for generations to come.

The occasion celebrated hope and progress as the people of Turkana witnessed a new era in their healthcare services. The upgraded infrastructure ensures that LCRH can provide timely and effective oxygen support to those in need, safeguarding the lives of countless patients. Through this joint effort, the oxygen plant at LCRH represents a shining example of how strategic collaborations can lead to lasting improvements in public health and make a significant difference in people’s lives.

About USAID Imarisha Jamii:

Imarisha Jamii is a five-year project implemented by Amref Health Africa and funded by USAID, which has brought about a transformative change in healthcare outcomes in Turkana County. The project focuses on strengthening health systems, improving access to essential health services, and empowering communities to take charge of their health.

Through Imarisha Jamii, Amref Health Africa and its partners continue to change lives and touch hearts, bringing hope and a brighter future to the resilient people of Turkana.

Author:  Nkatha Koronya, Communications, USAID, Imarisha Jamii

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