Hypoxemia is deadly serious: it increases the risk of dying seven-fold, no matter the underlying illness, and affects more than one-in-six hospitalized children.
A staple of modern medicine for over 100 years, medical oxygen is the only treatment for hypoxemia, or too little oxygen in the blood. Oxygen is taken for granted in high-income countries, but it is often unavailable in lower-income countries where health facilities lack the tools to diagnose and treat hypoxemia. Nearly 80 percent of hypoxemic patients in these countries do not receive oxygen.
Poor access to medical oxygen therefore leads to over one million preventable deaths each year.
Every severely ill patient needs oxygen—especially those with serious respiratory conditions like COVID-19. The worst pandemic in a century, COVID-19 has brought unparalleled attention to the value of oxygen. With it, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to close the oxygen access gap.
We are ready for this moment. Since 2015, we have worked with our government partners in Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda to build the evidence base, refine our approach, and lay a foundation for scale. Breathing New Life will achieve equitable, sustainable oxygen access by supporting governments to build robust oxygen ecosystems that: 1) improve clinical oxygen use, 2) develop coordinated supply partnerships, 3) secure sustainable financing, and 4) strengthen data systems.
Success in these countries, which we estimate represent 30 percent of hypoxemia-related deaths globally, will demonstrate that equitable access to oxygen is as attainable as it is necessary.
Clinton Health Access Initiative & Murdoch Children’s Research Institutewebsite: https://clintonhealthaccess.org/
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CHAI is marshaling its expertise in oxygen delivery systems to help global and national COVID-19 response efforts rapidly expand access to critical respiratory care services—including oxygen therapy. CHAI is supporting global efforts, led by the World Health Organization, to source oxygen therapy equipment for low-income countries and is working directly with partner governments on national supply planning, rapid health facility capacity assessments, equipment allocation, and health-worker training. Potential changes to the initial proposal in response to the pandemic include: 1) supporting response planning and post-response implementation to ensure COVID-19 investments lead to durable improvements in respiratory care capacity and 2) expanding the program’s scope to help additional countries leverage pandemic response funding to expand access to oxygen. New risks related to the pandemic include: 1) increased strain on health systems—and potential health-worker shortages, 2) a large, short-term increase in donor funding for equipment procurement without planning for maintenance and operational expenses, and 3) potential political and economic instability.
Racial and Ethnic Injustice Response
CHAI’s mission—to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live or the circumstances of their birth, has access to quality, affordable health services—is guided by our commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. We pursue this mission in over 35 countries and our staff, drawn from the communities we serve, strive to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable patients by tackling seemingly intractable, neglected global health problems. Oxygen has been taken for granted in high-income countries for decades and its continued inaccessibility in low-income countries helps perpetuate longstanding disparities in health outcomes between many African, Asian, and Latin American countries and their European and North American peers. By closing the oxygen access gap, we will take one more step toward a world where all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential.