Supplies of medical oxygen in Ukraine are dangerously low due to disruption caused by the Russian invasion, the World Health Organization has warned.
Due to the crisis, the WHO estimates that the country needs an additional 20–25% increase in oxygen supplies over and above its normal needs. As it currently stands, the transport of oxygen cylinders across the country is being disrupted, especially into the capital Kyiv. As of 27 February, many hospitals across the country, including in Kyiv, had less than 24 hours’ supply remaining.
Furthermore, oxygen production facilities are experiencing shortages of zeolite, which is needed for the safe production of oxygen in the pressure swing absorption process.
Prior to the conflict, the WHO had worked with Ukraine to improve its oxygen supply infrastructure, especially during the COVID pandemic. “Of the over 600 health facilities nationwide assessed by WHO during the pandemic, close to half were directly supported with supplies, technical know-how and infrastructure investments, enabling health authorities to save tens of thousands of lives,” the WHO said. This progress is threatening to be undone.
“Compounding the risk to patients, critical hospital services are also being jeopardised by electricity and power shortages, and ambulances transporting patients are in danger of getting caught in the crossfire,” the WHO said in its press release.
To offset this, the WHO is working through regional networks to bring in oxygen, as well as providing trauma treatment supplies. These would be brought in through a safe logistics corridor in Poland.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has announced that it is suspending activities in Ukraine. “These included care for people living with HIV in Severodonetsk; care for patients with tuberculosis in Zhytomyr; and improving access to healthcare access in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, where we have been providing much-needed healthcare, including for mental health, to conflict-affected communities,” the organisation said in an announcement.
However, it is working to ensure some continuity of its operations, and are working to provide trauma training to certain hospitals and have provided some trauma supplies.
Source: World Health Organization