Launch of oxygen plants in Buruburu and Kitengela to push up oxygen production

Friday, July 9th, 2021 00:55 |
Metropolitan Hospital Board chairman, Dr. Robin Mogere address journalists at the hospital grounds in Buruburu. Industrialisation CS, Betty Maina launched the hospital's Sh70 million two oxygen plants. Photo/Kenna Claude

By George Kebaso and Christine Musa

Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary, Betty Maina yesterday launched a Sh70 million twin oxygen plant at the 150-bed capacity Metropolitan Hospital in Buru Buru, Makadara sub county.

The twin plant has a capacity to produce 600 litres of oxygen in one minute and is seen as a game changer in the eastern part of the city where patients have to weave through heavy traffic to access other health facilities such as Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi West, Aga Khan, and Nairobi hospital among others.

The CS said the emergence of Covid-19 and its associated impact has taught the country that it is important to build its own capacity in the wake of critical times occasioned by pandemics and other disasters.

“We need to build our own capacity from what we have learnt during this COVID-19 pandemic period. Within the manufacturing pillar in the Big 4 agenda, we have emphasised that we also have the need to produce our own pharmaceuticals,” she said at Buru Buru.

The twin oxygen plant that was launched according to Metropolitan Hospital Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Kanyenje Gakombe said it has capacity to produce 600 litres of the life saving medical commodity in one minute.

“This is equivalent to 100, 8000, 500 litre-cylinders a day. The two plants are designed to run for 24 hours and we are piping oxygen directly to the hospital. Before Covid, we were using 20 cylinders per day, when Covid was at peak we went to 80 litres per day. So this means an increased demand,” he said.

He said with the plant and a cylinder refilling unit within the hospital, 5 extra hospitals in the region could benefit from the facility’s oxygen production but only on normal demand.

“What we have done by piping oxygen to critical areas, it means that now with 10 cylinders, we can supply 40 Covid patients, so the other cylinders can be used elsewhere in the country,” he added, noting that the two plants have a lifespan of 20 years.

Elsewhere in Kitengela, Kajiado a multi-million oxygen producing company with a capacity of producing 3000 cylinders of 8.7litres monthly has been launched at Kitengela.

The private partnership plant targets middle level hospitals which cannot afford to purchase oxygen from multinational companies amid the increasing demand of oxygen at hospital facilities.

Rather than producing and supplying oxygen, the plant will also be used as a Healthcare training center. Healthcare workers will be trained on best practices of handling oxygen for patients which require critical care.

 Speaking during the launch of the plant yesterday Topcare Ceo Ruth Wambui a nursing entrepreneur  said the plant aims at boosting access to universal health care (uhc) by empowering upcoming and middle level Health facilities by providing affordable oxygen.

She says the oxygen has been tested and verified by all the required regulators to ensure it meets the standards and quality required.

``Our prices are affordable compared to the market price because we look forward to selling in large quantities by tapping on a wide market which might not afford to buy in bulk but buys in small quantities frequently. We have also ensured the prices are market friendly by having the capacity to  do deliveries to health facilities at a subsidized cost,''said Wambui. 

Meanwhile, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya is appealing to the national treasury to assist the county to get its new oxygen plant held at Mombasa Port over taxes.

He said Kenya Revenue Agency (KRA) is demanding Sh 8 million in taxes noting that the supplier is unable to pay the amount.

"We procured an oxygen plant which has a capacity of producing 1,000 liters of oxygen per minute. Unfortunately, we cannot have the plant now since KRA wants Sh 8 million as tax from the supplier," he told journalists on Wednesday.

Oparanya said the county is experiencing an acute shortage of oxygen supply owing to the rising cases of Covid-19 disease in Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) counties which have been declared hotspots of the pandemic.

He said the current oxygen plant is able to supply only 300 litres of oxygen per minute and can no longer sustain the demand.

More on News