The government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Health alongside the World Health Organization (WHO) and Lesotho Millennium Development Agency (LMDA) launched a project to install medical oxygen plant in Leribe at the Motebang hospital.
Speaking at the event held this week, Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro indicated that in January 2021 it was a very sad moment for the country because scores of people died due to lack of oxygen.
â€œThough Covid-19 is a crisis, it helped us to see that we have to produce our own oxygen, hence the plant is going to enable us to produce 40 cylinders of 50 liters within 24 hours. The oxygen plants will be found in Motebang Hospital, Mafeteng hospital and Berea Hospital and will be efficient in times when the demand is not very high, which will be augmented with additional purchases from other countries if and when our supply is overwhelmedâ€ he said.
Majoro encouraged people to visit health service centers as soon as they become aware of symptoms of and mostly when they have been diagnosed with covid-19 and not wait until they are severely ill.
â€œThe oxygen is necessary to help people in times of need and will be effective when administered unto people in time because when they do not go to hospital in time the oxygen will not be helpful because you would have allowed the virus to kill some of your organs and that becomes a problem for health workers to help. Our suspicion with so many deaths is that people report to hospitals when they are they at a critical stage,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Semano Sekatle indicated that his ministryâ€™s mandate is to prevent diseases as well as treating people if they are sick.
â€œSince the inception of the Covid-19 pandemic we have been pleading with the nation to prevent the virus by wearing masks, washing hands and practice social distancing and so that it was working. But now that it has reached deeper into society, it important that our people make use of our health service centers in time.
â€œWe are here to launch the oxygen plant in regional health center Leribe. Our plan is to extend the service and what we need is the pipe system to transfer oxygen into the hospitals themselves close to the beds. We are also looking towards building of stations to produce oxygen for the whole country other than many oxygen plants, we cannot not afford to have oxygen plants in every health center in the country,â€ he said.
For his part, the WHO Representative Dr Richard Banda indicated that, installation of the plant is therefore a significant milestone in the fight against Covid-19.
â€œNot only will the plant help with Covid-19 treatment, it will also help to strengthen the countryâ€™s health systems beyond Covid-19, including saving lives of many newborns and children who require oxygen to survive. We all are aware that medical oxygen is just one challenge the country faces, as the limited amount of vaccines and PPEs illustrate,â€ he said.
â€œWe continue to call for a comprehensive approach, including tailored and consistent use of public health service and social measures, in combination with equitable vaccination,â€ he said.
On behalf of LMDA Keketso Chalatse indicated that the plant cost about M4 million and its specification range is 93-3 and 93 +3 approved by WHO.
â€œThe plant can work at maximum capacity for 24 hours and 16 hours under normal circumstances, whence it can produce 40 liters of oxygen. Already health workers have been trained on how to use and protect the plant and also constructors for maintenance in the long run,â€ he said.