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Uganda Considers Calling for Oxygen Donation as COVID-19 Claims 49 Lives in a Day

Dr Monica Musenero, the newly appointed Minister in charge of Science, Technology and Innovation told URN on Wednesday that the government is considering an appeal to save the lives of those Ugandans whose only hope is dependent on the availability of oxygen.
Cylinders are now refilled from private providers such as Roofings, Steel and Tube Industries.

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Uganda is looking for support with oxygen supplies from the neighbouring countries as the number of people in need of oxygen continues to increase at the various health facilities across the country. Currently, there are 950  people admitted with COVID-19, many of them in dire need of oxygen support.

Dr Monica Musenero, the newly appointed Minister in charge of Science, Technology and Innovation told URN on Wednesday that the government is considering an appeal to save the lives of those Ugandans whose only hope is dependent on the availability of oxygen.

Musenero was speaking just after the Ministry of Health announced that up to 49 people succumbed to COVID-19 in its latest test results conducted on Monday. According to the Ministry, the deaths are partly due to people’s self-medication with oxygen. 

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The ministry also reported that of the 7,238 samples tested, 1,110 people tested positive for the viral respiratory disease in a wave that has put a major strain on the health system.

In Mulago Specialised National Referral hospital where majority of the critical cases are being treated, David Nuwamanya, the Principal Administrator said they don’t have enough oxygen supplies to cover the bulging numbers and have since opted to supplement their supplies with cylinders from private providers.   

The hospital, he said is now quickly constructing a new oxygen plant that should start operating by next week. This is expected to provide an additional 1000 litres of oxygen per hour to supplement on the 2083 litres per hour being produced now by the four plants already existent in the hospital.

On his part, Dr Byarugaba Baterana, the Executive Director of Mulago tells URN that people to the hospital with severe COVID-19 are arriving late that even oxygen therapy cannot do much to prevent them from dying.  However, as the pressure on health facilities is piling, sections of people are opting to use oxygen from their homes something that Byarugaba says is only a death sentence.

Refuting claims that the hospital was offering cylinders for some big wigs in government for treatment at home, the doctors  says by the time one requires treatment with oxygen, it means they are critical and should run to the nearest health facility. 

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However, while it's not clear how much oxygen the country requires to fully meet its demand, Mulago hospital administrator says for now they are looking at hitting a target of having a supply of 4000litres per hour.  This too can only be enough if the numbers of critical cases don't continue going up.  

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