Liberia: New Medical Oxygen Plant Commissioned in Monrovia

By David A. Yates and Simeon S. Wiakanty

A newly constructed medical oxygen plant has been commissioned to address the medical needs of the Liberian public.

The facility, situated on Bushrod Island, Monrovia, was commissioned by President George M. Weah yesterday, Tuesday, October 25, during a program attended by an array of government officials and development partners.

The modern Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plant is meant to help ensure a more robust and resilient health sector within the country.

The facility was constructed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with funding from the governments of Germany, the United States of America, and Canada.

Health authorities said the facility will serve an estimated population of two million in Montserrado and Margibi Counties.

At the ceremony to commission the oxygen plant, President Weah expressed his delight about the construction of the facility.

“I am delighted to be here today to commission this oxygen plant, the first of its kind in the country with the capacity to produce as many as a hundred cylinders of oxygen per day,” he said.

The President said the establishment of the plant is the result of collaboration between his government and the WHO, with financial support from the federal governments of Germany, the United States, and Canada.

“I would like to express sincere thanks and appreciation to the governments of these three countries for supporting Liberia in the first fight against COVID-19 and strengthening our health system,” he stated.

He said that his administration places a high value on timely assistance in protecting the country from future outbreaks and resurgences of public health threats.

“In addition to these two new oxygen plants, the Ministry of Health has prepared and presented a whole new roll-out plan for the establishment of eleven more oxygen plants throughout the country,” he disclosed.

According to him, the facility represents his administration’s attempt to bring more health services to the communities as an attempt to increase access to universal health coverage and protect the population from public health threats under the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

He assured development partners that the investment in the oxygen plant will not only address any new surge in the COVID-19 pandemic but will also serve the health sector with the treatment of other perennial diseases such as pneumonia that tend to persist long after the pandemic.

“Liberia stands ready today with pride and humanity among the few countries globally to have successfully managed the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the challenges presented by our health system,” said Weah.

According to him, the stabilization of the COVID-19 situation and the declining trajectory of new infections in the country is a result of his government’s swift actions in leading and managing the response collaboration with international partners.

In commissioning the Medical PSA Oxygen Plant, Weah disclosed that the Ministry of Health has confirmed that no death cases of COVID-19 have been reported since the beginning of 2022.

The Liberian leader said the country stands proud among other countries for managing the COVID-19 pandemic despite the challenging health system.

The Country Representative of WHO, Peter Lugala Clement, said the government has also invested time and energy and instituted all the necessary mechanisms to keep Liberia safe from the scourge of COVID-19 and other diseases of epidemic potential.

Clement stressed that almost 955 days since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Liberia, the Incident Management System entrusted by the President to technically handle the response has remained a faithful coordination platform for the national response.

He said the medical PSA oxygen plant for Liberia has a high production capacity of 100 cylinders per day.

He added that the package for the facility includes adequate space for the plant with in-built workstations and an area for the cylinders, office space, a store for spare parts and a training unit.

Clement further disclosed that to improve the capacity of the facility, the WHO has initiated the procurement of a vehicle to facilitate the Ministry of Health in coordinating the network of oxygen plants nationwide, especially in the areas of production, distribution, and maintenance.

The WHO Country Representative in Liberia has, however, expressed excitement that the plant is being managed by Liberians who were trained over a period of two weeks as part of the project.

At the same time, Clement has disclosed that the WHO is installing the second plant in Tubmanburg City, Bomi County, with the support of the American government.

He said the funds from the United States of America were used for procuring the plants and the construction of a facility to host them, adding that the plant should be operational within 2-3 weeks’ time.

“The plant will save more lives, not only from COVID-19 but other illnesses,” Clement averred.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina S. Jallah has disclosed that the Liberian government now has 12 oxygen plants to be distributed from Montserrado to Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Kru, and other counties.

“As we all say, water is life, but I would say oxygen is life because when you need that oxygen and it is not there, then that means you are dead.”

She stressed that the major concern of the national government is the sustainability of these plants.

However, the Health Minister said that as part of the government's own initiative, it will institute a business module for the sustainability and maintenance of the plants in various countries.

According to her, this will also buttress the efforts of the country’s international and development partners.Jallah added that the business module, when instituted, will ensure that those working on the plants are adequately and effectively supported to deliver all of the oxygen to the various health facilities.