The government in Uganda has warned health workers and caregivers against administering oxygen to Covid-19 patients at home or other undesignated places.
This comes as the country battles the second wave of the pandemic, which has seen an increase in Covid-19 cases and, consequently, oxygen demand.
“The public is urged to desist from this dangerous practice with immediate effect,” said Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the director-general of Health Services, in a June 18 statement. “Furthermore, health workers administering oxygen in undesignated hospitals should immediately stop this malpractice.”
Dr. Mwebesa said oxygen is a Class A medical supply required to be monitored and regulated by a trained health worker upon proper prescription by qualified medical personnel.
He observed that a haphazard oxygen administration, particularly in homes of those with means to afford, has deteriorated patients who cannot be helped when rushed to hospitals as an after-thought at the last minute.
“The public should note this is very dangerous to the lives of their patients and the entire household where such administration is taking place,” Dr. Mwebesa said.
He added: “… a number of patients are deteriorating because of receiving either lower or higher oxygen doses as the different severity levels may demand. We are not even sure whether or not the oxygen being used is medical oxygen or industrial oxygen, and not every Covid-19 positive patient requires oxygen therapy.”
Oxygen abuse can be toxic to vital body organs, including the brain, according to experts.
Other problems associated with misuse of oxygen, which is highly flammable, are possible explosion and fire, or overdose and or under – all of which can lead to death, medical experts warn.