PATH and CHAI partner to increase access to oxygen in low- and middle-income countries

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, access to oxygen was already a challenge across much of the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

The virus has only highlighted that gap.

Hypoxemia, or low blood oxygen, contributes to over a million deaths each year, many of which can be prevented with oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy is the provision of supplemental oxygen to sustain patients in critical care while they receive treatment.

About 41 percent of confirmed COVID-19 patients, and in severe cases, over 60 percent, need oxygen to support their breathing. However, in low resource settings, access to oxygen – including the production and delivery of oxygen to health facilities, as well as diagnosis and treatment – is often limited or unavailable.

PATH and CHAI, together with the Every Breath Counts coalition, have partnered on the COVID-19 Respiratory Care Response Coordination project to address the lack of oxygen access in several low- and middle-income countries. These countries include Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Lao, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Vietnam, and Zambia.

The project aims to deliver this through a comprehensive respiratory care package that will dramatically and sustainably address oxygen shortages in every corner of the health system – during the COVID-19 response and well beyond the pandemic. It will provide strategic planning, coordination, and distribution of respiratory diagnostics, treatment, and care to improve outcomes for all patients needing oxygen therapy in our partner countries. Four key objectives guide this work:

  • Global respiratory care response coordination
  • Rapid respiratory care capacity assessments
  • Supplier landscaping and outreach
  • Support of informed country-specific decision-making on procurement and use of respiratory care products

Both CHAI and PATH have extensive experience working with the governments of low- and middle-income countries to improve access to treatment, care, and diagnostics.

PATH uses its expertise in science, health, economics, technology, advocacy, and other specialties to develop and scale solutions—including vaccines, drugs, devices, diagnostics, and innovative approaches to strengthening health systems worldwide. CHAI’s approach focuses on improving market dynamics for medicines and diagnostics; lowering prices for treatment; accelerating access to lifesaving technologies, and helping governments build the capacity required for quality care and treatment.

Through our combined skills and expertise, we hope the delivery of a comprehensive respiratory care package will be realized sooner rather than later for our partner countries to respond to the pandemic. Moreover, that far beyond the COVID-19 response, comprehensive respiratory care will be an integral part of these countries’ health systems.

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