Oxygen is essential for life, and plays a key role in medical care. During the Covid-19 pandemic the need for oxygen had never been greater. However, in many low-income countries bottled oxygen is not readily available. Consequently, oxygen concentrators (a device used to increase the percentage of oxygen by removing nitrogen from room air) become vital. However, due to high maintenance and limited supply chains oxygen concentrators are often prematurely written-off as no longer repairable in the Majority World.
It was in this urgent context that Dr. Gerry Douglas and Dr. Timothy Mtonga, Founder and Director of the Global Health Informatics Institute of Malawi and Open02 respectively, realised there was a life saving fix that could breathe new life into Malawi's health care system. Rather than throwing out the whole oxygen canister - you can refresh the zeolite crystals - the chemical responsible for removing the nitrogen.
During the second wave of Covid-19, their innovative idea truly came to life through a new partnership and catalytic seed funding from the DAK Foundation under the leadership of Marnie Rickards, DAK Foundation’s Operations Director. By December 2021 - Open02 had repaired 649 oxygen concentrators servicing 58 hospitals, making an additional 657,860 cubic metres of oxygen available - enough to support up to 34,553 babies with a continuous flow of oxygen for one week.
The team at AIDN are thrilled to launch this special edition of #philanthropod, where host Anubha Rawat sits down with Gerry, Timothy and Marnie to discuss this pioneering global health initiative. Tune in to learn more about Malawi’s health sector, the challenges of working in the development sector during Covid-19, and the importance of creative ideas and flexible partnerships. Gerry finishes with advice to others who may have a simple yet effective idea about how to approach life-saving seed funding.
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