By: Priscilla Mukokobi
The Unam vice-chancellor professor Kenneth Matengu says oxygen production plants strengthen Namibia’s health care system.
Matengu said this after the Welsh government donated N$20 million meant for four major medical oxygen production plants in the northern parts of Namibia.
The medical oxygen production plants are Katima Mulilo, Grootfontein, Nkerunkuru and the Gobabis.
According to Matengu, the plants improve quality and adequate care for patients in urban and rural areas.
“The oxygen production plants result from an ambitious international collaboration between Cardiff University and the University of Namibia, collectively called the Phoenix Project, and was duly executed in close collaboration with the ministry of health and social services,” he said.
He added that the idea to set up oxygen production plants was formed during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in mid-2021.
Matengu stated that this was done through 13 public health education roadshows across Namibia.
“The public health roadshows aimed at educating the public on the signs and symptoms of Covid-19. How it is spread and what to do to protect oneself against the pandemic by getting vaccinated,” he said.
Matengu further added that during the public health roadshows, which ran from May to November 2021, Unam listened to the public’s outcry to assist the health ministry in soliciting support for the supply of sufficient medical oxygen.
“In response to the public outcry regarding the shortage of medical oxygen in the country, we decided to approach the Welsh Government for international aid.”
Speaking at the same event, health minister Kalumbi Shangula stated that the pandemic has taught Namibia that no one is safe until or unless all of them are safe.
“This realisation has engendered a spirit of cooperation and solidarity for humanity to confront and defeat Covid-19 collectively,” he said.
Shangula added that the government would spare no effort in ensuring the availability of Covid-19 vaccines in the country.
“The necessary logistical requirements for storage, transport and cold chain management are in place. Vaccination of eligible individuals has been ongoing since the launch of the Covid-19 National Vaccination programme in April 2021.”
Shangula said the Welsh government has been providing support for medical oxygen through Cardiff University and Unam.
“As part of this support, an oxygen generating system, capable of producing 270 litres per minute, was constructed for the Katima Mulilo Isolation Ward,” said Shangula.
He concluded that the gesture by Wales to support Namibia would go a long way toward improving the clinical management of patients suffering from Covid-19. Namibia faced an oxygen shortage during the third wave last year.
“And indeed other respiratory illnesses for which oxygen therapy is required. Medical oxygen is one of the biggest life-saving interventions that any hospital needs. Hence, the significance of this generous donation.”