Two provinces of Nepal equipped with increased oxygen generation capacity in preparation for potential Covid surges

Two new oxygen generation plants came into operation in Lumbini Provincial Hospital in Lumbini Province and Janakpur Provincial Hospital in Province 2 as of December 5, 2021. These plants financed by the World Bank are part of a long-term solution for augmenting Nepal’s capacities for a stronger response to the COVID-19 pandemic and boost self-reliance of provincial hospitals to meet the needs of therapeutic oxygen.

The energy efficient, Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen generation plants were inaugurated by Dr. Madan Kumar Upadhyaya, Division Chief of the Ministry of Health and Population, and Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Similar plants will be operational in the remaining five provinces – Damak Municipality Hospital of Province 1, Hetauda Hospital of Bagmati Province, Western Regional Hospital of Gandaki Province, Karnali Provincial Hospital of Karnali Province, and Mahakali Provincial Hospital of Sudurpaschim Province – by December 20, 2021.

“The government is making concerted efforts to strengthen the capacities of the public hospitals and ensure that they are self-sufficient and have adequate supply of medical oxygen to meet increased demand in the event of future waves of COVID-19,” said Birodh Khatiwada, Minister of Health and Population. “We appreciate the continued support that the World Bank and other development partners are providing to our efforts to respond to the pandemic effectively.”

The oxygen plants were procured, installed, and will be operated and maintained fully for a period of three years by UNOPS under the World Bank-financed COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project, which also financed 1,000 units of 10-liter oxygen concentrators distributed to peripheral health facilities across the country in June 2021. The plants will ensure uninterrupted supply of high-quality medical oxygen through the central medical gas pipeline system to hospital facilities, where installed. Additionally, the oxygen can also be used to fill at least 24 46.7-liter cylinders for emergency back-up and supply to peripheral hospitals or ambulance use.

“Having essential infrastructure, equipment, and supplies in the right places – such as these oxygen plants in strategically located, frontline hospitals in each province – is important to be able to respond to health crises posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. “We reaffirm our continued support to Nepal and Nepalis, to help build stronger and more resilient systems to tackle pandemics and other health shocks.”

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The oxygen plants were inaugurated as part of a joint field visit of the heads of agency and senior representatives from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Union, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, International Labor Organization, and Food and Agriculture Organization. It included an observational visit and discussion on the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Multi-phase Programmatic Approach Regional Transport and Trade Facilitation Program in Nepal, the first phase of which is under preparation. It focused on the potential development of the Tinau bridge in Lumbini Province as a signature bridge – a green architectural landmark whose concept will be further discussed through various consultations with relevant local governments and key stakeholders.

The delegation also visited field sites and interacted with the local government and local community under the World Bank-supported Nepal Livestock Sector Innovation Project and Food and Nutrition Security Enhancement Project under implementation in Lumbini Province and Province 2 respectively.

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