The British High Commission, in partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, has procured 9,000 oxygen cylinders from Afrox to aid Zambia’s COVID-19 fight.

In a statement, Wednesday, British High Commission Development Director Steve Beel noted that the third wave of COVID-19 had put high demands on the health system in the country.

He said this when he visited the visited the Afrox plant in Lusaka.

“This third wave of COVID-19 has been having a devastating effect and putting unprecedented demands on the health system in Zambia, so the UK is pleased to be able to support the private sector to adapt and contribute further in this crisis, as well as create the potential for supporting the wider region too. I would like to thank the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Afrox and our team at the High Commission for their work in setting up this partnership which other international development partners will also now be able to contribute to. It also highlights the need to focus on more reliable and comprehensive funding for the health sector in Zambia to enable effective responses to COVID and other health emergencies,” read a statement from the commission.

The commission stated that through this initiative, some health facilities had already received oxygen.

“The British High Commission has been working in partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to procure over 9,000 J-cylinders of oxygen from Afrox following a request for support from the Zambian Ministry of Health. By ordering in bulk, this has helped Afrox make the necessary changes in capacity from industrial gases over to provision of medical oxygen and offer increased longer-term medical oxygen capacity in Zambia. In recent weeks, oxygen provision supported through this partnership between CHAI, the British High Commission and Afrox has been delivered to at least five medical facilities in and around Lusaka and more recently to two facilities in the Copperbelt,” it stated.

“This development is aligned with additional support provided by the Scottish Government, who announced on Saturday the supply of 100 additional oxygen concentrators for Zambia to be delivered through the Scottish-based global health charity Kids Operating Room. Oxygen concentrators are easy to use, suitable for patients of all ages and can be used through the health service.”

The Commission further stated that the oxygen concentrators would help to tackle the aspects of the surge in Covid-19 cases.

“Together these two initiatives will help tackle one of the most challenging aspects of the recent surge in COVID cases and provide more long-term oxygen capacity in Zambia, with the private sector at the heart of providing these solutions. The UK is also looking to work with the World Bank and Global Fund to ensure further UK support through those institutions is directed at tackling constraints in oxygen supply for medical facilities across the country and address gaps in system maintenance and shortages of funding,” read the statement.

The UK government has so far donated £2 million for emergency procurement of essential maternal and child health drugs and supplies.