UN warns of a 'state of emergency' caused by a shortage of oxygen supplies due to COVID-19


Published: 2021-02-25 20:32

Last Updated: 2021-04-16 15:02

Source: UNICEF
Source: UNICEF

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected an already weak oxygen supply, and the United Nations and its partners Thursday alerted. The organization said it needs $1.6 billion to confront the global emergency.

The pandemic has imposed tremendous pressure on health systems all over the world, especially in poor countries, where many hospitals faced a shortage of oxygen supplies.

This has resulted in preventable deaths and has forced families of hospitalized patients to pay extra money to ensure that oxygen reaches their loved ones.

The World Health Organization's "Act-Accelerator" program said Thursday that it is launching an "Oxygen Emergency Taskforce" task force to address the growing crisis.

A wide range of organizations participate in this group, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Global Fund, the World Bank and Save the Children.

Before the pandemic, the global supply of oxygen was restricted to treating diseases like pneumonia, which kills around 2.5 million people annually.

But COVID-19 exacerbated the problem.

An estimated half a million coronavirus patients in low and middle-income countries alone need 1.1 million bottles of oxygen every day, according to a statement published Thursday.

Meanwhile, 25 countries, mostly in Africa, reported high demand for oxygen bottles.

The task force determined that $90 million is needed immediately to address the major challenges in obtaining and providing oxygen in 20 countries, including Malawi, Nigeria and Afghanistan.

But the total needs are estimated at about $1.6 billion for this year alone in order to stabilize the global oxygen supply and ensure access to it.