High demand for oxygen in health facilities

Monday 8 November 2021

The consumption of medical oxygen in hospitals around the country has risen since the rise of COVID-19 cases in the country, especially in the high risk provinces including the National Capital District.

Health authorities are now calling on everyone to adhere to the non-pharmaceutical measures to help prevent further spread of the virus as oxygen demand in the country is expected to further increase if the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise rapidly.

The non-pharmaceutical measures include avoiding crowds, physical distancing by 1.5 to 2 metres, wearing of masks in public places such as markets and shops, following hygiene measures such as washing of hands with soap often or using sanitizers, and coughing into bent elbows rather than into the hands.

“Oxygen is the main medical therapy for COVID-19 patients. Moderate, severe and critical patients require high oxygen levels at 10-15L/min,’’ said National Control Centre clinical lead Dr Scotty Kandelyo, who is also the Deputy Chief Emergency Physician for the Highlands and Momase Region.

“A single moderate Covid-19 patient consumes oxygen in two large size cylinders (G size- 7600L x2) in 24 hours and a severe or critical patient consumes oxygen in three G size cylinders (G size-7600Lx3) in 24 hours.’’

Dr Kandelyo said the oxygen consumption has increased by more than 100 per cent in the surge provinces.

“Supplying of oxygen is currently struggling but keeping up with demand. However, if there are more cases we might run short with oxygen supply. Therefore, non-pharmaceutical measures are important,’’ said Dr Kandelyo.

Dr Kandelyo said BOC Gas, the company supplying medical gas to the public health facilities, has reported that it has upscaled its oxygen supply by 75 per cent.

He added  the logistics of supplying oxygen to the hospitals is also very challenging therefore the health facilities have to be proactive in assessing their oxygen capacity and request for resupply before their buffer supply is depleted so that the supply does not become so critical and put lives in danger.

Recently, more than 400 oxygen concentrators have been distributed to each province about 18 per province on average which is supplying oxygen to the mild and moderate cases as well.

Plans to build Pressure Swing Absorption Oxygen Plants in Port Moresby and Kokopo in East New Britain, in Lae and Mt Hagen to ease the demand in the regions are being implemented with one in Port  Moresby already completed.

The Deputy Controller for the National Pandemic Response Dr Daoni Esorom has cautioned, “if we get surges in all the provinces we will put a lot of strain on the already high demand for oxygen.

“Oxygen is also required for other medical conditions and sections of the hospital. Oxygen is required in the Emergency, Theatre, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Pediatric ICU and Outpatient. CEOs of PHA must order their oxygen requirements accurately to prevent out of stock,’’ said Dr Daoni.

Media contact: Chief Superintendent Dominic D. Kakas, BEM, DPS
COVID-19 Media & Public Information Joint Agency Task Force
Mobile: 75430557 email: ddkakas@gmail.com

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