COVID-19: Dealing with oxygen supply challenges

Patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19 cannot be treated without oxygen, but providing enough oxygen to meet the needs has been a major challenge from the beginning. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is responding to the coronavirus pandemic in more than 70 countries around the world. At our COVID-19 project in Aden, Yemen, our teams use 250 bottles of oxygen a day, a huge but necessary expense for treating our patients. A more cost-effective and efficient alternative—oxygen plants—are in use or on the way to a number of MSF projects, including in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, and Haiti. Our team in Aden is also awaiting delivery of an oxygen plant that can provide enough oxygen for 30 patients at a time. But COVID-19 has caused additional challenges: the machines are in high demand not readily available, and when they are sent from China, they must be quarantined at every stage of the shipping process. Providing oxygen will continue to be a major challenge for our COVID-19 projects around the world.