A consortium of government, industry, foundation and civil society organizations joined forces at the Clinton Global Initiative to announce the world’s first effort to support the Government of Ethiopia’s plan to scale-up access to pulse oximetry and oxygen in health facilities, with a special focus on reducing deaths among children under five and pregnant women, outlined in the National Medical Oxygen and Pulse Oximetry Scale Up Road Map (2016-2020/21).
Improved access to oxygen has the potential to benefit the 3 million Ethiopian women who give birth each year and their newborns, as well as 20% of the estimated 4 million cases of child pneumonia. Each year 11,000 Ethiopian women die in pregnancy and childbirth, 60,000 babies die in the first month of life and 30,000 children die from pneumonia. Babies who are born preterm, or who contract sepsis or pneumonia early in life are particularly vulnerable, as are women and children in remote communities with little or no access to health services.
The United for Oxygen partners — including Adara Development, Assist International/GE Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for International Health (Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne), the Center for Public Health and Development, Diamedica (UK), the Global Development Incubator, Gradian Health Systems, Grand Challenges Canada, Malaria Consortium, Masimo, PATH, Philips, the Pneumonia Innovations Team, Save the Children, UNICEF, University of Alberta, the US Fund for UNICEF, USAID, and the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists — will support the Government of Ethiopia’s Medical Oxygen and Pulse Oximetry Scale Up Road Map by:
(a) increasing the availability of pulse oximetry screening and oxygen therapy technologies in health centers and hospitals;
(b) training local staff in the use of the new technologies;
(c) establishing sustainable financing solutions for the procurement, installation and maintenance of the new equipment; and
(d) prioritizing pulse oximetry and oxygen access in the policies and guidelines of the Ethiopian health authorities and of the major international development agencies.
The Ethiopian Government has described the oxygen access agenda as central to their own Health Sector Transformation Plan (2015-2020) and National Newborn and Child Survival Strategy (2015-2020). Increasing access to oxygen is critical to the achievement of the new Sustainable Development Goals relating to health and to the implementation of the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent Health.
Following the successful implementation of the Government’s plan, the United for Oxygen partners will promote and seek to extend the Ethiopian oxygen access model to other countries with high levels of maternal, newborn and child deaths throughout South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to reducing maternal, newborn and child deaths, lack of oxygen access contributes to higher death rates from cardiac arrest, acute blood loss, pulmonary edema, trauma (e.g. road traffic accidents) and unsafe surgery.