Hospitals run out of oxygen

Hospitals run out of oxygen

MASERU-Lesotho is battling a serious shortage of oxygen leading to a surge in Covid-19 deaths, thepost heard this week.

That is according to the deputy spokesman for the Coalition of Health Professionals (CPH) Dr Mojakisane Ramafikeng
Dr Ramafikeng told thepost yesterday that “for a long time we have been complaining and advising the government to make oxygen available”.
“We are still complaining of a lack of oxygen even today,” Dr Ramafikeng said, adding that where he works at the Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital “we do not have that problem here”.

“But, professionals from different hospitals countrywide are complaining as we are talking now that there is a dire lack of oxygen and people are dying because of that,” he said.
Dr Ramafikeng’s statement comes as nurses threatened to down tools to press the government to provide oxygen for Covid-19 patients.

In an open letter to the government on Tuesday, the Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA) said it will soon call for a massive stay-away if the situation is not urgently addressed.
The nurses gave the government a week’s ultimatum to fix the crisis or they will strike.

The nurses said there has been a surge in Covid-19 deaths in the last two weeks as hospitals battled a serious shortage of oxygen.
It said patients are being sent back home because of a lack of oxygen.
“We are losing the capacity as health centres. The situation is getting out of hand,” the statement reads.

“Worse, there is no oxygen. You go to a health centre only to be sent back either because there is no bed available or there is no oxygen,” it reads.
“You will die at home.”
The LNA said the current statistics of Covid-19 deaths in Lesotho published by the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) were a gross understatement.

Nacosec says 85 people have so far died of Covid-19 since April last year.
The nurses say that figure could not be true given the number of people who died in the last two weeks alone.
Nacosec is fed information by the Ministry of Health directly before publishing the statistics.

Health Ministry spokesman, Tumisang Mokoai, says nurses are the ones feeding the ministry with information and “if now they turn around and say the information is wrong what do they suggest?”
Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo told the state-owned Radio Lesotho that it is not true that hospitals had run out of oxygen.
“I visited the Mafeteng Hospital, Berea Hospital and other health centres and I received no report of any shortage of oxygen,” Maqelepo said.
“What I know is that each hospital or health centre has a director whose responsibility is to collect oxygen from our plant at Botšabelo because there is oxygen there,” he said.

Maqelepo said if any hospital does not have oxygen it means its director did not fulfil his responsibility of going to the Botšabelo plant to refill the cylinders.
“To my knowledge, we have oxygen,” he said.
Dr Ramafikeng said it would not make sense to ask the court to force the government to make oxygen available in hospitals when they knew that it was readily available at Botšabelo.

“I don’t want to respond to the minister’s remarks but will it make any sense that we have asked the High Court’s intervention knowing well that we are lying?”
The government, with the help from Partners-In-Health Lesotho, installed an oxygen plant at Botšabelo prior to Christmas, the first such facility in Lesotho to fight Covid-19.

Staff Reporter

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