Afrox Malawi Limited has allayed fears of oxygen stockout amid rising demand in the country’s hospitals due to surging cases of Covid-19, saying there is no need to panic as there is enough oxygen.
Briefing Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda when she toured the company’s head office at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre, Afrox Malawi Limited country manager Boniface Chima admitted that the demand for medical oxygen was overwhelming, but said the company is trying its level best to supply all hospitals their requirements.
He said: “Predominantly, we import oxygen from South Africa, but we have also started importing some from Zambia. So far, we are foreseeing a smooth supply of oxygen as trucks are already on their way.
“We are also converting cylinders for technical oxygen for use for medical oxygen.”
But Chima cited the shortage of cylinders as one of the challenges they are facing. He was, however, quick to point out that the company was recalling cylinders from some of its customers.
Currently, Afrox Malawi has oxygen stocks that can last for 10 days.
The company’s oxygen availability status comes amid public fears of a potential stockout of the commodity critical in the fight against Covid-19, particularly for patients having difficulty in breathing, in the country’s hospitals.
In her remarks, the minister said she was satisfied with the efforts by Afrox Malawi and added that government was also procuring additional cylinders for its hospitals.
Said Chiponda: “We came to appreciate the challenges they are facing in terms of oxygen production. There have been concerns on our part that we are not getting enough oxygen which forms a huge part in Covid-19 management. I am satisfied with the efforts so far.
“On the amount of oxygen we may need, I cannot really say as it depends on the number of patients in need of the oxygen. But on average, a very critical patient will need three oxygen cylinders, but also we need backup oxygen in our hospitals.”
The minister, who is co-chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, also toured the construction of additional shelters for Covid-19 patients at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) and the setting up of a field hospital at the adjacent Blantyre Youth Centre
Currently, there are six pharmaceutical firms that have placed their vaccines on the
Malawi will have to contend with supply shortages as pharmaceutical firms are reportedly facing constraints in meeting the global demand for Covid-19 vaccines.
Renowned pharmaceutical firms AstraZeneca and Pfizer/Biontech have recently failed to supply doses to the EU, according to the BBC which also reported a raging bitter row between the EU and AstraZeneca after the Anglo-Swedish company failed to deliver the 300 million doses the continental bloc ordered. Pfizer/Biontech also failed to deliver 12.5 million doses it promised to deliver by the end of 2020.
Chiponda commended the local private sector and international partners for the irsupport in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Lazarus Chakwera last week announced the creation of field hospitals to manage Covid-19. The hospitals will be at four sites, including BYC which will have 300 beds and Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe to accommodate 300 beds. Other similar facilities are also earmarked for Mzuzu and Zomba State House.
The minister made special mention of the Malawi Institute of Engineering (MIE) for constructing the shelters and fitting in beds in the shelters.
She also said plans are underway to recruit 1300 additional health care workers due to the overwhelming demand for medical care.
In his remarks, QECH administrator Dr. Sam Mdolo encouraged those with Covid-19 symptoms to seek quick medical care.
He said despite the fact that the nation is losing its people to Covid-19, many of the patients are recovering.
“As of Monday evening, QECH had 98 Covid-19 patients on admission, all severely ill, but the maximum we have had is 110 patients, that is last week. However, we have been able to discharge as many as 30 patients in a day,” said Mdolo.