I am highly concerned by reports of oxygen shortages at Gauteng health facilities as it is a critical resource in saving the lives of those with Covid-19 infection.
According to Professor Francois Venter of the University of the Witwatersrand, the Gauteng Health Department has failed to ensure adequate supplies of life-saving oxygen to public hospitals and clinics.
I am also aware of low oxygen pressure at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital that is compromising the care of patients.
Other reports indicate that some patients are put on oxygen for one hour on and one hour off in order to preserve supply, and some patients do not get it at all despite desperate need.
It does not appear that the lockdown period was used to increase the number of beds in hospitals with piped oxygen, which is usually only one in ten.
Another disappointment is that oxygen points are only now being put into the field hospital beds at NASREC and there may not be enough for the surge of infections.
The timely supply of oxygen through a mask or using high flow nasal oxygen has proved successful in assisting patients without need for ventilators which are in short supply and require skilled staff to operate.
Every effort is needed to ensure sufficient supplies of oxygen reach those who most need it to survive Covid-19.