Oxygen is life. It is an essential part of basic care for countless conditions, including childhood pneumonia, tuberculosis, heart failure, asthma, and - especially in recent years - COVID-19. Yet it can be easily taken for granted.
At Partners In Health, we believe that health is a human right. We refuse to accept a world in which patients suffer and die gasping for breath. That is why we are working tirelessly - from bedsides to the halls of power - to resolve the global oxygen crisis.
38 million patients admitted to low- and middle- income country hospitals needed oxygen in 2020
60% of health care facilities in low- and middle-income countries lack reliable oxygen supply
26% reduction in hospital-wide mortality with improved oxygen systems
For more than a decade, Partners In Health has worked to ensure the facilities we support have the right staff, stuff, space, systems, and social support to help patients in need of timely and lifesaving oxygen therapy. That work became all the more urgent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Responding to that need, PIH launched Building Reliable Integrated and Next Generation Oxygen Services, or BRING O2, to accelerate access to safe, reliable, and quality oxygen in Malawi, Rwanda Peru, Lesotho, and Madagascar. BRING O2 is funded by Unitaid and completed in partnership with Build Health International (BHI) and Pivot Health Madagascar.
The main objectives of BRING O2 are to increase oxygen delivery capacity and access by:
Since December 2021, we have conducted on-site assessments in target countries and then completed everything from building new oxygen production plants and repairing broken or malfunctioning plants to overall improvements in facility infrastructure, as well as providing comprehensive training for biomedical engineers and clinicians.
120,000 patients each year will gain access to lifesaving oxygen treatment
100+ biomedical staff will be trained and equipped to maintain oxygen systems
50+ hospitals with increased oxygen capacity
To date, BRING O2 has purchased or repaired over 25 oxygen plants, repaired or installed 234 oxygen concentrators, and trained 146 biomedical staff and 470 clinical staff. The project has also established oxygen cylinder delivery networks, which have already distributed over 3,600 filled cylinders to health care facilities.
Overall, BRING O2 has unlocked over 14,000 cubic meters per day of oxygen capacity—enough medical oxygen to treat more than 125,000 patients per year. By the end of the project, BRING O2 will have installed and commissioned another PSA plant, installed piping to deliver oxygen to more than 800 hospital beds, and continued to foster strong regional networks to deliver oxygen to hospitals without production plants.
Modernizing hospital oxygen hundreds of miles from the nearest paved road is indeed a tough challenge. It requires strengthening an entire system of care - a PIH specialty - and involves investment in delivery, logistics, maintenance, piping, training for clinicians, and more. Already, BRING O2 has improved local biomedical and clinical capacity and strengthened entire oxygen ecosystems, from plant to patient, saving lives during COVID-19 surges, new emerging pandemics, and beyond.