Coverage of the COVID-19 response has highlighted the need for medical oxygen and the shortage of ventilators occurring across the world. While these shortages are important, what has gone overlooked is the impressive infrastructure of medical oxygen systems in developed countries. It is thanks to these systems that patients in these countries have received sufficient care in many cases. However, this is not true in low- and middle-income countries (especially in Africa), where ventilator shortages are the least of their worries with regards to medical oxygen. Many of these countries do not have proper medical oxygen systems in place, and as a result, many patients are unlikely to receive sufficient oxygen for treatment of respiratory illnesses.
While COVID-19 represents a well-known disease that requires medical oxygen treatment, it is far from the biggest threat to people in these countries. At the time of this article, COVID-19 has claimed ~350,000 lives across the world. Compared to that terrible number, pediatric pneumonia continues to claim over 800,000 lives per year in the low- and middle-income countries. At this time, these countries need the most support in improving access to medical oxygen for their people. As Lean Med is working on its own solution to equitable global access to medical oxygen, we also like to promote awareness of these concerns to the general public.
Of course, we are far from the only individuals or entities working to spread this information. For that reason, we at Lean Med like to take time and help shine a light on the work of other organizations in this same area. With that in mind, we encourage you to read more from Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive of Save the Children, about the oxygen problem in Africa and its connection to the current COVID-19 pandemic.