Patients at Annotto Bay, KPH to benefit from oxygen project
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton (left), greets Country Representative, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Alex Gainer, during the media launch of the liquid medical oxygen (LOX) expansion project at the Ministry’s offices in New Kingston, on Thursday, December 8. The Kingston Public and Annotto Bay Hospitals will benefit from the undertaking.

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Kingston Public and Annotto Bay hospitals will be retrofitted with the infrastructure required to better support oxygen delivery to patients who use the facilities, through a US$2-million project.

The project, which will provide lifesaving oxygen to the bedsides of patients in need of respiratory support, is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control (EpiC).

It aims to capacitate the public hospitals to expand use of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LOX).

There will be the installation of piping infrastructure that delivers oxygen to patients in the two facilities, as well as training to ensure the efficient management, maintenance and sustainment of the liquid oxygen ecosystem in the country.

Addressing the launch of the LOX expansion project at the Ministry’s offices in New Kingston on Thursday, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, hailed the partnership.

“We appreciate the continued partnership between Jamaica and the US Government, and in this case, USAID. That partnership is strong; it continues to be stronger, and this $2-million expenditure is a lifesaving venture,” the Minister said.

He argued that the undertaking represents another good development in public health, “another example of building resilience, another example of building partnerships and, ultimately, it is the people who are going to benefit”.

Country representative for USAID, Alex Gainer, said the project aims to improve the efficiency with which oxygen is supplied, stored and delivered and is a further demonstration of the longstanding Jamaica/US relationship.

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the United States has provided approximately US$17 million in assistance to Jamaica for the response… this is in addition to vaccine donations. The launch of this programme is part of that assistance and demonstrates our partnership with Jamaica. It’s not just a response to COVID, but also to prepare for the future,” Gainer said.

He noted that COVID-19 forcibly showed the world that having a consistent and efficient supply of medical oxygen is critical to saving lives.

Senior Programme Officer at EpiC, Sue-Ann Wallace Brown, said the true beneficiaries of the initiative are the thousands of Jamaicans who will access care at these facilities.

“We are pleased to be partnering with the Ministry of Health on this LOX project, because it is not just for Jamaica; it is for Jamaicans. The work to get us to this stage began several months ago with a rapid assessment which really sought to determine the feasibility of investing in LOX to bolster Jamaica’s health system capacity to treat with respiratory illnesses,” she noted.

“Working closely with the Ministry of Health, we were able to assess the gaps and determine the best use of the available funds to provide catalytic support to address the country’s oxygen use,” Wallace Brown added.

Senior Medical Officer at the Kingston Public Hospital, Dr Natalie Whylie, said the project represents yet another move of progress for the public health system.

“USAID support to Jamaica is a valuable partnership that facilitates improvement of health and quality of life. Today marks another strategic effort that will benefit the Jamaican people and will strengthen the healthcare system as the Ministry continues to pursue its goal to attain optimal health for all Jamaicans,” she said.

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