Globally, 25 million deaths occur each year from conditions that require oxygen, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Shockingly, less than half of health facilities in low- and middle-income countries have regular access to oxygen. As a result of this gap, fewer than 1 in 5 children with sever pneumonia receive oxygen.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread oxygen shortages across Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Less than half of hospitalized patients who died from COVID-19 had oxygen support.
As part of the pandemic response, the Access to Covid Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) partnership, launched by the WHO, established the ACT-A Oxygen Emergency Taskforce in February 2021 to coordinate and advocate for increased access to oxygen supplies. The Taskforce, co-led by Unitaid and The Wellcome Trust, made significant progress in securing oxygen access for LMICs, including raising over US$ 1 billion ($600m through The Global Fund) to support procurement and delivery of oxygen systems, market shaping to improve oxygen affordability and accelerated supplies and technical cooperation on the development, and financing and implementation of national oxygen response plans.
As the world transitions from the acute phase of the pandemic and prepares for future threats, the ACT-A-Oxygen Emergency Taskforce evolved into the Global Oxygen Alliance (GO2AL). With this transition, GO2AL aims to convert the investments made during the pandemic into lives saved and to continue the critical work of the previous Taskforce, including financing to expand production, lowering the price of oxygen and providing technical support to governments.
While the GO2AL partners are committed to addressing this issue, as of mid-2023 they had no guiding medium-term strategy to guide their work.
GO2AL engaged Pharos to construct an Executive Summary to guide strategy internally and amplify the visibility of Go2AL’s mission and objectives externally. Pharos conducted key informant interviews, reviewed documents, and rapidly developed an executive summary of GO2AL’s future strategy, outlining the case for oxygen investment as an important down payment towards pandemic preparedness and also the achievement of the health-related SDGs.
The Executive Summary was published on 13 September 2023 by GO2AL. The Executive Summary was instrumental to guiding conversations on oxygen at the United Nations General Assembly later that month, and is being used by GO2AL partners to advocate for the importance of access to medical oxygen.
This issue will be further emphasized in a Lancet Commission series on oxygen in 2024.
The GO2AL coalition is planning to develop a full-scale strategy and operational plan in 2024, too, to galvanize further fundraising for expanded medical oxygen services in LMIC countries.
Status: Completed, July 2023 – September 2023
Team Members Involved: Ruhama Quadir, Shan Soe-Lin
For more information, contact Shan Soe-Lin at [email protected].