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UN High-Level Meetings must prioritize medical oxygen to save lives

Geneva, Sep 14 (Prensa Latina) In advance of the three UN High-Level Meetings on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, Universal Health Coverage, and Tuberculosis 20-22 September 2023, about 20 of the world’s leading agencies call on world leaders to prioritize access to medical oxygen in health strategies, policies, and financing.

The Global Oxygen Alliance (GO2AL) was launched in May 2023 with Unitaid and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as co-chairs, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) as vice-chairs, and Unitaid, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF sharing the secretariat.

GO2AL is calling for world leaders to ensure the 2023 World Health Assembly Resolution on Increasing Access to Medical Oxygen, adopted by all 194 WHO Member States, is reflected in the universal health coverage, pandemic preparedness, prevention and response, and tuberculosis agendas.

“Medical oxygen is a lifesaving medicine that is essential to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, achieving universal health coverage and the fight off TB. If we’re going to increase access and affordability of medical oxygen for the people who need it most, we need innovative ways of producing and delivering it, and tools adapted for use in low-resource settings,” said Philippe Duneton, Executive Director of Unitaid.

Medical oxygen is a lifesaving essential medicine without substitute, used to treat both acute and chronic respiratory illnesses, including Covid-19 and pneumonia.

It is essential for surgery, trauma, emergency, critical care, and for treating older people, pregnant women with obstetric complications and newborns in respiratory distress; and can support the management of opportunistic infections due to advanced HIV infection and severe forms of tuberculosis and malaria, as well as non-communicable diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease.

“Access to medical oxygen and respiratory care is an essential part of resilient and sustainable health systems and a critical element of pandemic preparedness. Investments in oxygen delivery systems will save lives now and build surge capacity for countries to respond against future health threats,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund.

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