United States Boosts Life-Saving Oxygen Supply at Onandjokwe Hospital

Dr. Kalumbi Shangula, Minister of Health and Social Services and Dr. Abeje Zegeye, Acting Health Office Director at USAID Namibia, switching on the upgraded oxygen generation plant at Onandjokwe Hospital.

Windhoek – The U.S. government upgraded the oxygen generation plant at the Onandjokwe Hospital in Ondangwa to provide a stable supply of medical grade oxygen to the health facility. Dr. Abeje Zegeye from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Namibia handed over the upgraded plant, worth US$1 million (approx. N$17 million) to the Ministry of Health and Social Services in a symbolic ceremony on October 7. Minister Dr. Kalumbi Shangula received the plant on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

“A hospital’s ability to provide a secure source of oxygen is often life-saving,” Zegeye stated. “COVID and other patients at the Onandjokwe Hospital can now receive the oxygen they need to recover. This support is expected to go a long way and save many Namibian lives.”

The upgrade was funded by USAID as part of a U.S. Government US$20 million support package to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Namibia and is part of America’s global program to expand worldwide access to medical oxygen.

The Onandjokwe plant was revamped by USAID’s Right to Care EQUIP project following an oxygen needs assessment at the hospital which revealed that the previous installation provided just 18% of the facility’s actual oxygen needs.

The upgraded plant will not only help COVID-19 patients but also pregnant mothers and children in need of oxygen support, any client undergoing surgical procedures as well as TB, HIV, hypertension, and diabetes patients. Consequently, the new installation covers both in-patient and out-patient departments.

Dr. Thapelo Maotoe from the Right to Care EQUIP project explained that “One of our key goals is to enhance the oxygen ecosystem in Namibia and reduce mortality from COVID-19. Without funding from the American government via USAID, we would not be able to offer the Namibian health system this critical support. With planned routine maintenance, the plant at the Onandjokwe Hospital is expected to last over ten years.”

The Onandjokwe Hospital is a large public health facility that houses 19 wards with 520 beds spread over 120,000 m2. The upgrade of the plant has increased oxygen and vacuum supply from 200 to 1,000 liters per minute and doubled the number of oxygen units from 78 to 157.

The U.S. government has provided extensive assistance to the Namibian people during the COVID-19 pandemic. USAID has supported Namibia with its COVID-19 and vaccination program since March 2021 and is also funding a new oxygen generation plant at the Gobabis Hospital. It is further providing technical assistance to Namibia on clinical management, mentorship, infection prevention, and control. More than 4,000 people have died in Namibia of COVID-19.