Updated Jan 15, 2021

O2NOW: Addressing Oxygen Scarcity NOW

Part of Assist International

https://assistinternational.org/

Monica Cainer

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A comprehensive approach to oxygen therapy access in low-resource settings that includes local oxygen production plants, training, and equipment delivered in partnership with government to enable affordable and reliable access to medical oxygen.

We target critical barriers to accessing medical oxygen in low- and middle- income countries, by implementing a comprehensive suite of interventions to support the development of a sustainable oxygen ecosystem. This starts with infrastructure: we work closely with local partners to establish an appropriate medical oxygen production supply and distribution system that can typically serve a whole...
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We target critical barriers to accessing medical oxygen in low- and middle- income countries, by implementing a comprehensive suite of interventions to support the development of a sustainable oxygen ecosystem. This starts with infrastructure: we work closely with local partners to establish an appropriate medical oxygen production supply and distribution system that can typically serve a whole network of hospitals. Once established, our biomedical engineer professional (BMET) team assesses the availability and functionality of oxygen therapy equipment at each health facility to inform the creation of a tailored oxygen therapy equipment package for each site, with the goal of reducing barriers to oxygen distribution and sales. To assure safe and effective use of the medical oxygen, we also provide facilities with a blended model of in-person and virtual clinical and technical trainings, covering topics from oxygen therapy and critical care and device maintenance and repair. We complement all of these activities with rigorous monitoring & evaluation to continuously evaluate progress and impact to enable data-driven problem solving. The data we generate is useful for generating new business, setting policy and payment plans with ministries of health, and improving global demand for medical oxygen. Finally, we work closely with facilities to create sustainable business models using our “hub & spoke” model of oxygen distribution and PPPs to ensure longevity of the program.
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Stage 5: Scaling

To date, Assist International has worked with partners to establish 7 oxygen plants across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Rwanda. Collectively, our plants serve ~150 hospitals and have improved the lives of 3.51M patients. At this time, our focus is on finding funding and operational partners to support a scale-up of our current programming in Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda. AI has also had initial discussions about piloting our oxygen program with the Ministries of Health of Cameroon, Malawi, Nigeria, Somaliland, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Focus Areas:

Health and Transport & Supply Chains

Health and Transport & Supply ChainsSEE LESS

Implemented In:

Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia

Kenya, Rwanda and EthiopiaSEE LESS

3,510,000
Lives Impacted to Date
5
Key Partners
3
Countries Implemented In

Problem

Our innovation addresses the challenge of oxygen scarcity in health systems across the Global South, a challenge that has been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Women, newborns, and children are generally most affected by the lack of medical oxygen. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death for children under-five – and oxygen alone can decrease pneumonia mortality by 20-40%. Medical oxygen saves lives by treating the hypoxemia caused by pneumonia and many other potentially deadly conditions.

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Solution

AI has been providing comprehensive oxygen solutions in low-resource settings with the goal of saving lives and improving health outcomes since 2007. Our solution is an all-inclusive model of oxygen delivery that includes production, distribution, maintenance, and training. Our focus is transforming oxygen ecosystems by providing integrated solutions to critical barriers faced in low-resource settings. At the core of our program is serving communities and healthcare centers with what they need. Our interventions are not designed to be one standard package and may differ depending on local needs.

Target Beneficiaries

Our target population includes any hospital or health clinic patient living on less than $5/day requiring in-patient care within our catchment areas. While patients are the ultimate beneficiary, physicians and nurses at low-resource hospitals receive training, supplies, and tools to treat patients who need oxygen.

Mission and Vision

AI is driven by a belief in the dignity of all people and that everyone deserves the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. We work to change the global inequities in access to quality healthcare in some of the world’s most challenging contexts. Our mission is to address the needs of communities in low-resource settings in collaboration with, and driven by, community leaders to increase local capacity. We focus on innovation by evaluating ideas and solutions from a variety of sectors that can be adapted in the Global South, incorporating technology to improve each program's impact. We believe in data-driven problem solving designing key metrics, gathering evidence, evaluating impact, identifying pain points, and proactively responding to challenges. We strive towards sustainability by structuring programs as social business enterprises, equipping local staff with resources and skills that continue impacting communities long after the end of program funding.

Competitive Advantage

Our innovation is different than other similar programs because we place an emphasis on the “last mile” of oxygen delivery, which is to the get oxygen into the lungs of the patient. We do this by providing long-term training to both clinical and BMET teams, a curated package of oxygen therapy tools and equipment, and we are able to widely scale sustainable business models. We have invested heavily in remote education and mentorship as well as have the experience to identify the most effective package to include. We are not aware of any other oxygen program offering such a complete package.

Planned Goals and Milestones

Our vision is to work with a wide variety of stakeholders- international and in-country organizations, MOHs, RHBs, and hospitals- to implement systems that afford immediate relief to local medical oxygen needs. We also evaluate the oxygen landscape across Africa, and create and implement national strategies that drastically improve oxygen access and usage. We are confident that our model of oxygen production, distribution, and training will create self-sustainable oxygen ecosystems and transform health systems. At this time, our focus is on finding funding and operational partners to support a scale-up of our current programming in Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda. AI is actively working to expand our oxygen program across the Global South. Our vision is to scale up to 20 plants over the next 3 years, which would amplify our impact to 16.3M beneficiaries accessing a meaningfully enhanced quality of care through improved access to medical oxygen.
Funding Goal20,000,000
Projected Cumulative Lives Impacted3,510,000
New Implemented CountriesEthiopia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania

The Team Behind the Innovation

Founded in 1990, Assist International is a humanitarian organization that develops programs to strengthen health systems, bolster local capacity, create opportunities, and save lives around the world. With all of our programs, we believe the best way to provide effective and sustainable solutions that bring about lasting change is by working with in-country partners to empower and increase their capacity. Today, in partnership with foundations, hospital groups, service clubs, corporations, and individual donors, Assist International has completed projects in over 60 countries. Whether it’s building schools for children in Uganda, providing medical equipment in Thailand, or establishing orphanages in Romania, we strive for excellence and sustainability.

EXECUTIVE TEAM INCLUDES WOMEN

Milestone

Dec 2020
Lives Impacted
3,510,000
Jan 2017
Key Partnership
Implementation
Dec 2014
New Country Implemented In
Rwanda
Dec 2014
New Country Implemented In
Kenya
Dec 2013
Created