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Gov’t Commissions Medical Oxygen Plant In Bomi

The government has commissioned another new medical oxygen plant at the public hospital in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.

The commissioning ceremony, which took place on November 8, 2022, was patronized by county representatives from the Government of Liberia, the Ministry of Health, US Mission and USAID, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Country Representative for the WHO in Liberia, Clement Lugala Peter, gave a brief background of the plant and made emphasis that, COVID-19 presents an overwhelming public health challenge to the already fragile and weak health care systems in many developing nations.

He added that many countries already had challenges with medical oxygen supply before COVID-19, and the surge of the pandemic worsened the sad situation-putting excessive pressure on the healthcare systems, which saw hospitals run out of oxygen, increasing the number of fatalities, and Liberia was not spared.

“The disease put immense pressure on the health system, resulting in more deaths from severe forms of COVID-19 and other preventable and unrelated COVID-19 deaths. Indeed, the shortage of oxygen was more pronounced and had devastating consequences on the health outcome-our dilemma in Liberia was not different,” said Dr. Peter.

In his concluding remarks, Dr. Peter emphasized that having access to reliable medical oxygen is within the confines of the rights to health, equity, and leaving no one behind.

The plant will indeed assist in improving the health systems in Bomi, Gbarpolu, and Cape Mount counties, which are home to over 300,000 people, and it serves as one of the important instruments to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Liberia.

In agreement, the United States (US) Deputy Chief of Mission in Liberia, Mr. Joel Maybury, said that following the COVID-19 pandemic’s inception, it was clear that the oxygen supply in Liberia was a clear gap in the response.

The US government supported the GOL to increase its oxygen supply and respiratory support capabilities, and this Bomi plant is one prime example of investments that have unleashed new capacities in the health sector that were not available when the pandemic began.

“The United States is proud to be part of this great investment. As we mark this important moment, we have additional reasons to join Liberia in celebrating a major health sector achievement, as it is one of the first countries in all of Africa to have achieved the WHO target of fully vaccinating 70% of its population, now at 77%”, said Mr Maybury.

The US government has been a key partner in the COVID-19 preparedness and response, and Mr. Mayburg further reaffirmed the US government’s commitment to supporting the health sector in Liberia.
The COVID-19 pandemic, according to Liberia’s Health Minister Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, was a learning experience for the entire world.

She said the populace of Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, and Gbarpolu counties will benefit from the construction of the oxygen plant in Bomi County.

She further made a plea to the County Health Team in Bomi County to continue to encourage those who have not yet received their vaccination to do so.

Speaking on behalf of President George Manneh Weah, Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean said that the government of Liberia has a strong commitment to ensuring the health and well-being of its citizens and that it is aware of the link between economic productivity and a healthy population as healthcare and economic growth are intertwined under the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Economic Development.
He applauded the WHO, the US government, and the American people for providing the funding for the construction of the oxygen plant.

Making a personal reflection, Minister Dean recalled his own terrifying COVID-19 fight in April 2020, when the pandemic had just begun and little was known about the virus.

“I was placed on oxygen for 14 days, and I then realised that to breathe freely is a luxury. My friends here and abroad made efforts to source oxygen for me, with others going across to Abidjan, and I was grateful to have received the precious commodity and recovered. I then thought of the ordinary people,” narrated Minister Dean.

He went on to say that this made him think of the average person, as he himself used a number of oxygen cylinders at the time he was battling with the COVID-19 virus. He then resorted to personally procuring oxygen for public use. He believes that the plant will be a great relief to the residents of Bomi, Gbarpolu, and Cape Mount counties.

The PSA oxygen plant, installed by WHO with funding from the US government through USAID, has the capacity to produce 31 cylinders of oxygen a day; in addition to procuring and installing the oxygen plant, WHO has also supported the Ministry of Health in erecting the building that is housing the plant and secured a 1-year service contract for the plant with its supplier.

Four biomedical technicians have been trained to operate and maintain the plant, and lastly, there has been a provision of standby generator fuel for 4 months, as efforts are under way to link it to the national grid.

This is the second inauguration of a PSA medical oxygen plant with support from WHO, following the commissioning of Liberia’s largest plant at Star Base in October this year by President Weah.

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