Oyo State Government says it will ensure the domestication of national medical oxygen policy to reduce infant, child and maternal mortality and COVID-19 related deaths.
Dr Muideen Olatunji, the Executive Secretary, Oyo State Primary Healthcare Board, made the commitment at the Stakeholders Engagement Meeting on Oxygen Security on Thursday in the state.
Olatunji said: “We must admit that we have gaps as far as oxygen system strengthening is concerned in the state.
“We need to do a swift analysis to know what our strength is and then, we can now develop on what we need to do to strengthen it.
“We cannot overemphasised the importance of oxygen in our healthcare system, and we are looking for a way to strengthen it from the primary healthcare level to secondary and tertiary institutions.”
He said there were many cases that needed not to get to the secondary health facility, if there was a response as the need arose immediately.
The public health physician said the state was going to look at a strategic way of ensuring it has a robust structure to respond to its new drive for oxygen in the state.
“There are some conditions we call silent hypoxia; that the person is actually losing concentration and you will not know immediately until it gets to a critical stage and the only thing you see next is death.
“So, if you don’t respond immediately before you even move from one point to another, you have lost the person, that means you cannot do anything in isolation.
”We must make sure we have an holistic approach to the whole issue,” he said.
According to him, we will see at what point and level we can empower at the primary healthcare level and the capacity.
”We need to build our personnel, because there is a need to know how to handle oxygen so that it doesn’t become a problem when administering it,” Olatunji said.
Also, Dr Khalilu Muhaamad, a Health Specialist, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Country Office, said there were lots of efforts at the national level to develop a medical oxygen system for the country.
According to him, it is called Oxygen Security.
Muhaamad said it means that the country would have a system, whereby anybody that needs oxygen could be detected at the health facility on time and the person would be provided the oxygen as and when needed.
“To do that we need the right kind of human resources, training and also the equipment to be able to diagnose and administer medical oxygen at the right grade.
“And those equipment need to be maintained to ensure that they are sustainable.
“There are policies and road maps developed at the national level to ensure that there is medical oxygen security in Nigeria.
”The road maps and policies have not been stepped down at the state level for a number of reasons, including inadequate resources,” Muhaamad said.
He said that COVID-19 and the attendant challenges had further exposed the need for medical oxygen.
“It has provided the impetus for us to further ensure that there was increased momentum to ensure that we attain that.
“So, UNICEF, because of our passion to ensure that women and children are giving the best health services available will continue to partner with interested parties to ensure that our children survive and thrive.
“We narrowed down on Kano and Oyo States because of the limited resources and the willingness showed by these state governments to support the government to domestic the national policies and to begin to implement them,” Mahaamad said.
The UNICEF country health specialist said in the medical setting, one of the top three killers of children under five is Pneumonia; Complications of Newborns and then Malaria.
He noted that two of these three killers were directly related to oxygen, “because most newborns who come down with complications actually have birth asphyxia and they will need resuscitation at some point and that includes oxygen.
“And then one of the biggest pneumonia complications is what we called low level oxidation in the system and that can also lead to hypoxia.
“If you look at the enormous contributions of these to under five mortality, you will see that oxygen is the only way to treat these two,” he said.
In her presentation, Dr Ijeoma Agbor, Health Specialist, UNICEF, Akure Field Office, said the organisation would ensure that implementation of the policy got to the grassroots.
“COVID-19 pandemic showed a lot of gaps in our healthcare system and that it lacked the capacity to manage COVID-19 cases and other cases that needed medical oxygen.