Although oxygen is a medical necessity, access to oxygen is erratic and expensive for rural hospitals in East Africa. Oxygen is considered an essential drug yet it is rarely available to hospitals in low income countries. However, a collaboration of partners including the GE Foundation, Center for Public Health and Development (Kenya) and Health Builders (Rwanda), has developed and implemented a solution that allows greater access to oxygen for patients that need it most.
In Kenya, our local partner, CPHD, created Hewa Tele, a social enterprise based on a public-private partnership model that delivers affordable oxygen to over 30 hospitals in the western region of that country. The results have been outstanding.
- Siaya County Referral Hospital was purchasing only 299 liters of oxygen per month in November 2014. Now, it uses 2,309 liters of oxygen per month, a 673% increase.
- Small health facilities also benefit from reliable and affordable supplies of oxygen. Akala Health Center in Kenya reports that before the Hewa Tele oxygen plant opened, newborns with respiratory problems often died en route to district hospitals because the health center had no oxygen. Since regularly purchasing oxygen and training staff on neonatal care, the center has seen newborn deaths drop to almost zero.
- As of December 2015, the Hewa Tele oxygen plant had sold 50,396 liters of oxygen to 38 customer health facilities and is selling oxygen at prices 18.2% cheaper than their competitors.
In Rwanda, the Total Oxygen Solutions oxygen plant is located at Ruhengeri District Hospital and the results in the country have also been impressive.
- Ruhengeri District Hospital was using approximately 500L of oxygen per month in 2014. In December 2015, it used 9,334 liters of oxygen, a 1,767% increase.
- Customer hospitals report that previously they had to wait days or even weeks for oxygen from their supplier to reach sales local depots near them. Due to the oxygen plants, hospital oxygen is now consistently delivered directly to hospitals, and many hospitals report that they have not had an oxygen stock-out since they began purchasing oxygen from the plants.
- The oxygen plant has distributed more than 142,000 liters of oxygen to 10 health facilities in 2015
This innovative solution that brings oxygen to those that need it most is impacting thousands of lives in Rwanda and Kenya and will continue to increase as the program looks to scale in other countries.