By Iyabo Adebisi

Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde has inaugurated the first solarized medical oxygen plant in Nigeria and level 2 newborn units, Jericho Specialist Hospital, Ibadan.

Governor Makinde also launched the Oyo state strategy for the scale-up of medical oxygen in health facilities. 

Radio Nigeria correspondent reports that the  projects were put in place by the Oyo State Government, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund UNICEF and some development partners.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Federal and State governments and development partners have ramped up investments to increase access to safe and efficient medical oxygen in the country. 

The strategy for the Scale-up of Medical Oxygen is envisioned to ensure that all patients with hypoxaemia are properly diagnosed and treated with medical oxygen and that no patient dies from hypoxaemia, which is the low levels of oxygen in the blood. 

Inaugurating the project, Governor Makinde said his administration would always key into projects that would improve the health of the citizenry. 

While pointing our that provision of oxygen was an issue in the wake of Covid_19, Governor Makinde believed that the project would be beneficial to the people of the state. 

Governor Makinde thanked the development partners for the choice of the state for the project. 

The country representative of UNICEF Nigeria, Ms Chistian Munduate said the projects were shared to improve maternal and child health in Oyo state and Nigeria as whole. 

Ms Munduate maintained that the plant  is a beacon of innovation and resilience, with a view to saving lives and provide a model for similar initiatives across the country.

The Nigeria UNICEF representative added that the Level 2 Newborn Unit established at Jericho Specialist Hospital, Ibadan is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and staffed by trained healthcare professionals dedicated to providing specialized care for premature and critically ill newborns.

She said”his triple milestone represents a remarkable step forward in our shared commitment to improving maternal and child health in Oyo State and across Nigeria”.

“Firstly, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Government of Oyo State for their unwavering support and collaboration. I also express deepest appreciation to our partners, IHS Nigeria, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Governments of Canada and Norway for this partnership. This is a testament to what we can achieve when we work together towards a common goal – ensuring the health and well-being of every child and mother in this state”.

“The installation of the solarized medical oxygen plant is a groundbreaking achievement. Oxygen is a critical life-saving intervention, particularly for newborns and children suffering from pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses. By harnessing solar power, we ensure reliable and sustainable oxygen supply, even in times of limited electricity”.

“Today, we also launch the Oyo State Strategy for the Scale-Up of Medical Oxygen in Health Facilities. This strategy is a comprehensive roadmap designed to ensure that every health facility in the state is equipped with the necessary resources to provide medical oxygen. It outlines the steps for capacity building, infrastructure development, supply chain management, and sustainable financing mechanisms”.

“These facilities including the strategy are critical in our efforts to improve health outcomes and is aligned with UNICEF’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 3, which aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.

“The significance of these developments cannot be overstated. According to recent data, Nigeria has one of the highest rates of neonatal mortality globally. Investments in healthcare infrastructure and strategic planning, like the facilities being commissioned today, are crucial in reversing this trend”.

In a message, the representative of Immigration Health Surcharge,Canada AYOBAMI ADISA said the oxygen plant is a symbol of solidarity, resilience, and hoped that,with collaboration,the world would overcome its challenges. 

“In these challenging times, we have all witnessed the critical importance of raising access to healthcare infrastructure. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the urgent need for reliable medical oxygen supply, a lifeline for countless patients battling respiratory ailments such as pneumonia, hypoxemia disorders in newborn babies and pregnant women, as well as support for emergency cases such as during surgeries and in obstetric care and anesthesia”.

Other development partners are IHS Towers, the Governments of Norway and Canada and Bills & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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