Ethiopia, through its Amhara Regional Government, its Ministry of Health, the Amhara Regional Health Bureau, along with the General Electric (GE) Foundation, and Grand Challenges Canada, has announced the launch of the Amhara Region Oxygen Centre.
Located in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, the Amhara Region Oxygen Centre is a facility that will provide affordable and reliable medical oxygen to hospitals across the Amhara Region, bringing the lifesaving medical treatment within reach of millions of patients.
The launch is a milestone of both the Safe Surgery 2020 initiative, which strengthens surgical systems in Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian government’s ‘Medical Oxygen and Pulse Oximetry Scale Up Road Map’.
“The Amhara Region Oxygen Centre is an exciting example of the power of public-private partnerships to strengthen health systems. Through Safe Surgery 2020, we have seen how partnerships are essential to improving the quality of patient care and overcoming infrastructure challenges,” says Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Amir Aman.
“The Federal Ministry of Health is committed to improving access to oxygen across the country through sustainable solutions like this Centre,” added Dr. Aman.
GE Foundation’s Executive Director, Dr. David Barash stated that the commissioning of the Amhara Region Oxygen Centre is the culmination of concerted efforts by many organizations over the past three years.
“It is a huge achievement, both in terms of the impact it will make on health outcomes, but also as an example of what diverse partners can achieve when they work together,” he added.
Medical oxygen is essential to providing safe surgical care and treating many critical conditions, including pneumonia, a leading cause of deaths in children. Yet, in 2016, less than half of the hospitals and health centres across Ethiopia had medical oxygen available. The issue of oxygen scarcity is present across sub-Saharan Africa given that 25% of health facilities never have oxygen available and 32% have an irregular supply.
“In many instances, innovation must go beyond a medical product or device in order to truly have impact,” added Karlee Silver, Co-CEO of Grand Challenges Canada.
“Executing on an innovative business model with a strong collaborating government partnership provides an important footing for sustainable impact at scale,” said Silver.
As part of the Centre, two oxygen production plants have been constructed at Felege Hiwot and Dessie Referral Hospitals. They will be managed through an innovative public-private partnership business model that creates a locally-run and revenue generating system. The Centre will also provide necessary training to hospitals to ensure medical oxygen is used effectively for patient care.