Oxygen is essential. Oxygen therapy is required to treat hypoxemia (a low level of oxygen in the blood), which affects millions of people each year suffering from a range of common conditions—including childhood pneumonia, newborn conditions, and obstetric emergencies. It can also be critical for patients with noncommunicable diseases, such as asthma and heart failure, and during pandemic disease outbreaks.
Equitable access to medical oxygen has been a long-neglected element of health system planning for a number of reasons. It is both a medicine and a device, has complex delivery infrastructure, requires proper training for health workers and sustainable maintenance plans for oxygen equipment, and should be supported by sufficient budget.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the role of medical oxygen as a lifesaving therapy for patients struggling to breathe. It also pushed to the surface the long-existing issue of the oxygen access gap, as it created an overwhelming demand for oxygen technologies and supplies across health facilities in many countries, especially where that balance is already threatened. Closing this gap will require an integrated set of solutions and investment in strengthening the oxygen delivery systems—for COVID-19 and beyond.
Many of the tools and resources needed to overcome oxygen access barriers already exist across different global health and implementing organizations, manufacturers and suppliers, donors, and country governments. This Access to Oxygen (A2O2) Resource Library has been developed as a central place to host a comprehensive set of both global and country-specific tools, guidance, data, publications, policies, protocols, and advocacy resources for oxygen scale-up. The library is designed to strengthen and support oxygen delivery systems for the COVID-19 response, and beyond the current pandemic for long-term respiratory care planning. Learn more.