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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686


ENARSON, Penny et al. Implementation of an oxygen concentrator system in district hospital paediatric wards throughout Malawi. Bull World Health Organ [online]. 2008, vol.86, n.5, pp.344-348. ISSN 0042-9686.

PROBLEM: Hypoxaemia in children with severe or very severe pneumonia is a reliable predictor of mortality, yet oxygen was not available in most paediatric wards in Malawi. APPROACH: The Child Lung Health Programme in Malawi made oxygen available by supplying oxygen concentrators and essential supplies to 22 district and 3 regional hospitals' paediatric wards. Five key steps were taken to introduce concentrators: (1) develop a curriculum and training materials; (2) train staff on use and maintenance; (3) retrain electromedical departments on maintenance and repair; (4) conduct training once concentrators arrived in the country; and (5) distribute concentrators once staff had been trained. LOCAL SETTING: The paediatric wards in 3 regional and 22 government district hospitals and 3 regional electromedical engineering departments in Malawi. RELEVANT CHANGES: Main changes were: (1) provision of a source of oxygen in every paediatric ward in all district hospitals; (2) training of electrical engineering and health personnel in the use, maintenance and repair of oxygen concentrators; and (3) setting-up of high-dependency rooms or areas for severely ill children where oxygen is administered. LESSONS LEARNED: It is feasible to implement an oxygen system using concentrators throughout a low-income country. Oxygen delivery requires trained staff with necessary equipment and supplies. Regular maintenance and supervision are essential to ensure optimal utilization.

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