Wealthier countries in Europe and North America have pulled out all the stops to make sure their coronavirus patients have the proper amount of medical oxygen, but several countries around the world are facing a dire shortage of one of the most crucial treatments, The Associated Press reports.
Dr. Tom Freiden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, said medical oxygen is "in very short supply" globally, which is particularly troubling because low blood-oxygen levels have proven to be the main danger for many patients suffering from severe cases of COVID-19. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, per AP, only two percent of health care facilities have oxygen. In Tanzania and Bangladesh the figure is eight and seven percent, respectively, limited surveys conducted by USAID have shown. Most countries don't even get surveyed, AP notes, and because oxygen wasn't on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines until 2017, there hasn't been much international money or government action focused on boosting supply.
Now, many countries are doing all they can to make sure that happens — Peru's government, for example, allocated $28 million for oxygen tanks and new plants — but there is still widespread concern that the amount coming in isn't enough, at least in the short-term. But public health experts believe the pandemic will pressure international donors and governments to invest more heavily going forward. Read more at The Associated Press.