New Oxygen Plant at PIH Hospital Will Fill Void, Save Lives in Lesotho

Lesotho health leaders said the country's first medical oxygen plant is a landmark for building a stronger health system during COVID-19 and beyond 

Posted on Dec 18, 2020

Lesotho Ministry of Health and PIH leaders open a new oxygen plant at Botsabelo Hospital
Dr. Melino Ndayizigiye (right), executive director of PIH in Lesotho, enters the new oxygen plant at PIH-supported Botsabelo Hospital in Maseru, Lesotho's capital, earlier this month. Behind him is Lesotho Minister of Health Motlatsi Maqelepo and, at left, Advocate Lesimole Moletsane, deputy principal secretary for Lesotho’s Ministry of Health. Photos by Mpho Marole / PIH

A new oxygen plant installed at Partners In Health-supported Botšabelo Hospital is the first such facility in Lesotho and will save lives during the respiratory COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, a local news report said.

PIH Lesotho, known locally as Bo-mphato Litsebeletsong Tsa Bophelo, opened the plant this month in collaboration with Lesotho’s Ministry of Health. The facility is housed in a renovated shipping container on the campus of Botšabelo Hospital, the country’s only health facility for patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

In a media report on the facility’s formal launch, a Southern Africa Broadcasting Corp. correspondent said the vital oxygen plant “will go a long way in saving and ending unnecessary deaths” in Lesotho, a mountainous nation surrounded by South Africa.

PIH has worked in Lesotho since 2006, supporting and strengthening the government’s health system and combating high rates of HIV and TB.

Advocate Lesimole Moletsane, deputy principal secretary for Lesotho’s Ministry of Health, said the oxygen plant is a significant landmark in those battles, and the fight against COVID-19.

“Those who have died, families who have suffered the loss of loved ones because of the shortage of cheap oxygen, that is also history, from today,” she said.

Lesotho Minister of Health Motlatsi Maqelepo said that amid the crisis of this year’s pandemic, one silver lining is the creation of opportunity for Lesotho’s health sector.   

“We have got so much support from our partners and our government, and we are going to take the opportunity to make sure that we turn around the health system of Lesotho, and that we build a better health care system,” he said at the oxygen plant’s launch.

A look inside the new oxygen plant at Botsabelo Hospital
A look inside the new oxygen plant at PIH-supported Botsabelo Hospital in Maseru, Lesotho.

Dr. Melino Ndayizigiye, executive director of Bo-mphato Litsebeletsong Tsa Bophelo, said PIH also is preparing to acquire and distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

“We know that for the vaccine, there are a lot of needs, especially on the cold chain, the capacity-building for the health care workers to administer the vaccines, to make sure that in all the districts, in all the corners of the country, people have access to the vaccine,” Ndayizigiye told SABC.

He noted that PIH has a history of experience and expertise in widespread vaccine campaigns around the world, and is proud to support Lesotho’s COVID-19 response.

“We will be there with the Ministry of Health to support and do what it takes to make sure that all people, Basotho, are well-vaccinated and covered,” he said.

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