Medical oxygen supplies are “dangerously low” across Ukrainian hospitals, with transport routes limited due to Russian violence
The World Health Organisation said that medical oxygen supplies could run out across Ukrainian hospitals.
This looming health crisis is happening because trucks carrying the oxygen – and key chemicals needed for ventilators – are unable to make it to hospitals, due to ongoing Russian violence.
Oxygen levels are “dangerously low”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said that these levels of oxygen are “dangerously low”.
On 27 February, the WHO said that medical oxygen supplies were set to run out in some hospitals in the next 24 hours.
In an earlier statement, Dr Ghebreyesus said: “The World Health Organization (WHO) is deeply concerned for the health of the people of Ukraine in the escalating crisis. The health system must continue to function to deliver essential care to people for all health issues, from COVID-19 to cancer, diabetes and tuberculosis, to mental health issues, especially for vulnerable groups such as older persons and migrants.”
At the moment, Ukraine is in the middle of an Omicron wave – expected to last until April. Last estimates – with the expectation that future data will no longer be 100% reflective of the truth – put 1,700 people in ICU care due to COVID.
On 4 February, 2022, Ukraine saw 43,778 infections in one day.
While these levels peaked in early February, the risk to hospitalised individuals is now compounded by a lack of treatment resources. Ukraine is also the least-vaccinated country in Europe, with 34.07% of its population fully inoculated against COVID.
The importance of oxygen across healthcare
Medical oxygen supplies can often be the difference between life and death in a COVID Intensive Care Ward. For other health emergencies, such as children born with lung issues, access to oxygen is critical to survival.
Across the world, oxygen became an increasingly invaluable resource when the COVID pandemic struck. The early clamour for ventilators in Italy signalled the beginning of the public health strain in Europe. In India there were devastating scenes as hospitals experienced preventable deaths due to to lack of oxygen and ventilation resources.
Right now, the WHO predicts that there will be a surge of oxygen need by 20-25% in comparison to previous needs.
The most crucial thing is a functional transport corridor. The health organisation are working to establish a logistics corridor through Poland, which would deliver oxygen – in both liquid and cylinder form – from other regions.
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