Important Resolution Passed on Increasing Access to Oxygen

May 26 2023

On May 26, the World Health Organization, unanimously adopted the first Increasing Access to Medical Oxygen Resolution.

The World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), has achieved a significant milestone in global healthcare by unanimously passing the groundbreaking resolution titled "Increasing Access to Oxygen." The resolution, adopted during the 76th session of the WHA, aims to address the critical issue of limited access to medical oxygen, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

Medical oxygen plays a vital role in the treatment of numerous health conditions, including pneumonia, COVID-19, asthma, and many other respiratory illnesses. However, millions of people around the world lack access to this life-saving resource, resulting in avoidable deaths and suffering. The "Increasing Access to Oxygen" resolution is a crucial step toward ensuring that every individual, regardless of their geographic location or economic status, has access to adequate and affordable medical oxygen.

This resolution, proposed by the Governments of Uganda, Australia, Bangladesh, the Central African Republic, the European Union and its 27 Member States, Kenya, and Türkiye, is the first to set out a list of 20 actions focused on medical oxygen to help countries improve their access to medical oxygen.

Key highlights include:

  • Ensuring medical oxygen and associated medical devices are on national lists of essential medicines and medical devices for adults and children
  • Developing national medical oxygen plans
  • Assessing and monitoring oxygen access gaps - products and people
  • Provide for adequate numbers of clinical staff to be appropriately trained to provide clinical assessments for hypoxemia and to administer medical oxygen therapy
  • Provide for availability of qualified staff including engineers and other staff required to establish demand, select, set up, operate and maintain the equipment and all the infrastructure

The WHA resolution serves as a call to action for governments, international organizations, healthcare providers, and the private sector to prioritize and accelerate efforts in expanding access to medical oxygen. By working together, the global community can save countless lives, reduce health inequalities, and build resilient healthcare systems that can effectively respond to future pandemics and public health emergencies.

We hope to see a continued focus on strengthening oxygen infrastructure in the countries that need it most. Reliable and robust oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, cylinders, regulators, flowmeters, and other oxygen equipment will all be needed, along with strong repair and maintenance systems. Oxygen is a critical part of strengthening healthcare infrastructure to ensure patients have access to the treatment they need where they live.

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