Kitui gets Sh23 million oxygen generator

newly installed oxygen plant in Kitui Referral Hospital

Kitui Health Executive Winnie Kitetu (right) with Climate Fund Managers director Vaneshree Naidoo, at the newly installed oxygen plant at Kitui Referral Hospital on July 26, 2022.

Photo credit: Pius Maundu | Nation Media Group

Kitui is set to revamp its health care services and reduce its health budget significantly after the county government acquired a Sh23 million plant for generating its own medical oxygen for use in public hospitals.

According to Moses Mutua, the medical superintendent at Kitui County Referral Hospital where the plant is based, the oxygen generator is able to produce 300 litres of the essential commodity per minute.

“The oxygen generator is able to serve 100 patients simultaneously. This is more oxygen than the referral hospital needs at any one point,” said Dr Mutua.

The oxygen generator is funded by Climate Fund Managers, a Dutch based fund, through Epicentre Africa Engineering, an engineering company which mainly deals in water treatment solutions.

The generator, which started operating yesterday, is expected to turn around the county’s healthcare system which was badly ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.

For a decade, more than 30 percent of the county government’s annual budget goes to health. The county government has been spending millions of shillings annually on oxygen.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the bill on oxygen rose to Sh3 million, according to Winnie Kitetu, the Health executive. Yet the county reported many deaths related to lack of medical oxygen as its healthcare system strained.

“Sometimes we were forced to borrow oxygen from the neighbouring Machakos and Tharaka Nithi counties due to the high cases of Covid-19 we handled. We reached out to donors. The problem has now become a thing of the past with the installation of the oxygen generating plant,” said Dr Kitetu on Tuesday during the commissioning of the oxygen generator.

With the decline in Covid-19 cases, the medical oxygen has come as a major relief to patients requiring oxygen therapy at the general surgery wards at the Kitui County Referral Hospital.