Zeolite is essential for the optimal purification of medical oxygen used in hospitals and in the home by chronic respiratory patients.

The WHO (World Health Organization) Director-General and the WHO Regional Director for Europe warn. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, are calling for critical medical supplies to reach safely those who need them and are working with partners to establish safe transit of shipments through Poland.

During the crisis in Ukraine, health must remain a priority pillar of the humanitarian response, with health systems and facilities remaining protected, functional, safe and accessible to all who need essential medical services. The same applies to health workers who must be protected so that they can continue to save lives.

This must include the safe and reliable provision of essential medical supplies, including life-saving supplies of pharmaceutical oxygen, which are vital for patients with various conditions, including patients with COVID-19 (who number 1700 in the hospital now), and patients with other critical illnesses (from neonates to the elderly) resulting from complications of pregnancy, childbirth, chronic conditions, sepsis, injuries and trauma.

The situation with oxygen supply is approaching a very dangerous point in Ukraine. Trucks cannot transport oxygen supplies from factories to hospitals throughout the country, including the capital Kiev. The majority of hospitals could run out of oxygen supplies within the next 24 hours. In some it has already been depleted. This puts thousands of lives at risk.

In addition, manufacturers of medical oxygen generators in several regions are facing shortages of zeolite, a critical, mostly imported product necessary to produce safe medical oxygen. Safe deliveries of zeolite from outside Ukraine to these factories are also needed.

Compounding the risk to patients, critical hospital services are also compromised by electricity and power shortages and ambulances transporting patients are at risk of being caught in crossfire.

In recent years, with the support of the WHO, Ukraine had made significant steps in strengthening its health systems as part of an ambitious health reform programme. This included a rapid increase in oxygen therapy capacity for critically ill patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the over 600 health facilities nationwide assessed by WHO during the pandemic, nearly half were immediately supported with supplies, technical expertise and infrastructure investments, enabling health authorities to save tens of thousands of lives.

This progress now risks being derailed during the current crisis.

The WHO is helping health authorities identify the country’s immediate needs for increasing oxygen supply, assuming a 20-25% increase over previous needs before the crisis escalated last week.

Despite the challenges posed by the current situation, WHO is working to secure the supply of oxygen-related medical devices and supplies for trauma care.

To achieve this, WHO is actively considering solutions to increase supplies that may include importing oxygen (liquid and cylinders) from regional networks. These supplies will need secure transit, including through a logistics corridor through Poland. It is imperative to ensure that life-saving medical supplies – including oxygen – reach those who need them.

Source: World Health Organization

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