23 oktober 2020

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NORWAC’s Oxygen Generator Project more relevant than ever

NORWAC’s Oxygen Generator Project more relevant than ever

Medical oxygen is crucial for critically ill COVID-19 patients. In Gaza they have admitted all COVID-19 patients at the European Hospital and there is a need for more oxygen. NORWAC have bought a new generator which hopefully will be in place by early December. The project is run by Country Representative Mohammad Tashtoush, based in Nablus. Pictures below show the two engineers Hassan Frainah and Saed Albatch recieveing the new generator and the generator being installed in  Al- Naser Hospital in Gaza in August 2020.

NORWAC’s oxygen project started in Palestine in 1997 and is considered a huge success. It has relieved pressure not only on patients, but on the Palestinian health workforce, as well as the Palestinian MoH.  All public hospitals in Palestine, both in the West Bank and Gaza are self-sufficient with medical oxygen as a result of this project. The MoH at the West Bank took over all responsibilities regarding the generators several years ago, while NORWAC still supports procurement of new generators, spare parts and maintenance for the hospitals in Gaza.

NORWAC’s Project Advisor for Syria, Marie Molund Lexow, wrote a thesis about NORWAC’s Oxygen Project during her master in Global health. Read a few attracts from the thesis below or use the link to read the whole article. Read the article: NORWAC’s Oxygen Project in Palestine


In order for cell metabolism to properly function, oxygen is needed. The air around us, consists of about 21% oxygen, while medical oxygen comes close to 100% (King, Ayim, Bion, 1994:69). A patients’ need for oxygen can be anything from being under anaesthesia and needing help to breath, having COPD, birth asphyxia, to severe loss of blood, where the remaining blood needs oxygen. Medical oxygen did not get on WHOs List of Essential Medicines until March 2017 (WHO, 2017e), which is peculiar since it is widely used in both chronic and acute cases.


By improving the health infrastructure, NORWACs oxygen project gives room for more patients to be treated, as well as patients getting better treatment. The partnership NORWAC has with the Palestinian MoH, touches upon all aspects of WHOs Healthcare System Building Blocks (WHO, 2017d), perhaps with a special emphasis on ‘medical products and technologies’. Having a sustainable healthcare system is essential in order for a population to enjoy their fundamental human rights, and it is “an instrumental element of human development” (UNWRA, 2015:7). In relation to this it is important to mention health equity, and how a project like NORWACs is part of changing the causes of differences in the quality of health and healthcare for the Palestinian population. By implementing a project like oxygen generators at Palestinian governmental hospitals, Palestinians in the West bank and Gaza are getting better chances. WHO defines equity as “the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically” (WHO, 2017a). One can therefore say that Palestinians, as many others, are experiencing health inequity, as their situation “involve more than inequality with respect to health determinants, access to the resources needed to improve and maintain health or health outcomes. It also entails a failure to avoid or overcome inequalities that infringe on fairness and human rights norms” (WHO, 2017a).


With this project, NORWACs does not simply give relief to acute situations such as a war in Gaza, or an intifada (uprising). It is not simply a medical or humanitarian project, it is part of the state building of Palestine. By making Palestinian governmental hospitals self-sufficient with something as banal as oxygen, so that doctors, nurses, hospital directors, and engineers can focus on more pressing matters, plays at the very core of the building blocks of how WHO states a good health care system should be.


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