February 10, 2020
Pediatric Pulmonology

Oxygen insecurity and mortality in resource‐constrained healthcare facilities in rural Kenya

Otiangala, Dickson; Agai, Nicholas O.; Olayo, Bernard; Adudans, Steve; Ng, Chin Hei; Calderon, Ryan; Forgie, Ella; Bachman, Christine; Lieberman, Daniel; Bell, David; Hawkes, Michael; Somoskovi, Akos

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death globally in children. Supplemental oxygen reduces mortality but is not available in many low‐resource settings. Inadequate power supply to drive oxygen concentrators is a major contributor to this failure. The objectives of our study were to (a) assess the availability of therapeutic oxygen; (b) evaluate the reliability of the electrical supply; and (c) investigate the effects of suboptimal oxygen delivery on patient outcomes in selected healthcare facilities in rural Kenya.IntroductionA cross‐sectional descriptive study on oxygen availability and descriptive case series of Kenyan children and youth hospitalized with hypoxemia.Materials and MethodsTwo of 11 facilities had no oxygen equipment and nine facilities had at least one concentrator or cylinder. Facilities had a median of seven power interruptions per week (range: 2‐147). The median duration of the power outage was 17 minutes and the longest was more than 6 days. The median proportion of time without power was out 7% (range: 1%‐58%). Fifty‐seven patients hospitalized with hypoxemia (median oxygen saturation 85% [interquartile range {IQR}: 82‐87]) were included in our case series. Patients received supplemental oxygen for a median duration of 4.6 hours (IQR: 3.0‐7.8). Eighteen patients (32%) faced an oxygen interruption of the median duration of 11 minutes (IQR: 9‐20). A back‐up cylinder was used in 5/18 (28%) cases. The case fatality rate was 11/57 (19%).ResultsMortality due to hypoxemia remains unacceptably high in low‐resource healthcare facilities and may be associated with oxygen insecurity, related to lack of equipment and/or reliable power.

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