Minister of Local Development and Rural Development Ben Phiri on Friday inaugurated an oxygen plant which will be supplying oxygen at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (Qech) and surrounding district hospitals in the Southern Region amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
The plant, procured and installed by the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust (MLW), is expected generate a million litres of oxygen per day to more than 100 beds at the referral while other oxygen will be filled in gas cylinders to be supplied to other hospitals.
Speaking at the function, Phiri said since oxygen is the only therapy for patients with severe Covid-19, which has no specific antiviral treatment, government is working towards replicating MLW’s gesture Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba central hospitals.
“However, with all the effort government and its partners is doing to contain Covid-19 and save patients’ lives in the country, it is sad that there are still people who think the disease doesn’t exist in Malawi. I believe from the deaths that have been registered so far, all Malawians will learn and take responsibility that taking matters of this nature lightly is such a big risk,” he said.
In his remarks, MLW director Professor Stephen Gordon said when the medical research institution realised that Covid-19 is an emergency, it reached out to the London-based Wellcome Trust, which provided a grant of £20.1 million (about K2.1 billion). The grant was used to buy personal protective equipment for frontline workers and the oxygen plant.
“While we were at it, we faced a hiccup in bringing the engineers who installed the plant from Cape Town, South Africa as there was a lockdown that restricted movement from one state to another. We couldn’t afford to put this project on hold as the oxygen plant was needed immediately and we reached out to Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited which chartered a jet for the engineers to come,” he said.
On his part, Qech director Dr Samsom Mndolo said the hospital spends between K25 million to K30 million in a month to buy bill shot up to K40 million because as part of preparing for Covid-19 severe cases, a lot of oxygen was procured and stored in cylinders.oxygen and last month the oxygen
Mndolo added that while, previously, most of the registered Covid-19 cases were mild and were self-isolating at home or elsewhere, in the last 72 hours, Blantyre has had two patients admitted at Qech and Kameza isolation centres that require oxygen.