Zimbabwe’s hospitals are running critically short of medical oxygen worsening the plight of COVID-19 patients.
The shortage was announced by a medical supply specialist, Calvin Majora, who tweeted:
We have run out of stock of oxygen concentrators, anyone with reasonably priced concentrators so that we give preference who need them at reasonable prices, we don’t want to be profiteering, help we have many people in urgent need.
Dr Agnes Mahomva, Zimbabwe’s chief coordinator of the Covid-19 task force, also said the resurgence of the coronavirus has triggered the shortage. She said:
A surge of Covid-19 patients has increased demand for oxygen and as a result we now have a shortage of medical oxygen. As government we know that medical oxygen is crucial for treating Covid-19 and our main priority right now is to buy oxygen.”
These reports come as many people in need have taken to social media looking to buy oxygen cylinders.
Private medical suppliers are selling oxygen concentrators for between US$2 000 (about R30 300) and US$3 700 (about R56 000) making it difficult for the common man in Zimbabwe to buy one.
Meanwhile, Professor Rashida Abbas Ferrand, an epidemiologist running one of the designated Covid-19 centres in the country said where she was based, in Harare, the problem was dire. She said:
Right now, we don’t have enough beds.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care it has invited tenders to supply oxygen to its health facilities. The tender closes on January 18.
Zimbabwe’s health sector has been collapsed for decades and some attribute the collapse to negligence and corruption by political elites in the country.