New Zealand boosts oxygen access for Fiji amid COVID-19 outbreak

● The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is funding Cure
Kids to boost oxygen supply and build treatment capacity in the face of
the COVID pandemic.

● A grant of NZ$4 million will contribute to staff, equipment, training,
research, and planning to save the lives of COVID-19 patients needing

Fiji’s access to oxygen to treat severe respiratory illnesses stemming from COVID-19 infection has been given a boost through a grant from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to Cure Kids, effectively supporting efforts by the Fiji Government to protect the health and livelihood of Fijians against the virus.

At the same time, the Cure Kids team is maintaining its long-term focus on ensuring sustainable access to oxygen for all patients in Fiji.

Officiating during the handover, NZ High Commissioner to Fiji Jonathan Curr said: “The latest investment in Cure Kids enables a rapid scale-up of oxygen capability, with an opportunity to deliver long-term benefits for Fiji’s health system through emphasis on human resources, capacity building, and quality of care,” says the NZ High Commissioner to Fiji.

”Cure Kids will collect data on use of oxygen to help the Fiji government’s plan for long-term sustainability of oxygen therapy and demand nationally.”

Cure Kids has been partnering since 2016 with Fiji’s Ministry of Health & Medical Services (MHMS) and the University of Auckland to work towards achieving sustainable access to medical oxygen for children with pneumonia and other respiratory conditions. Access to oxygen treatment has become even more critical now with Fiji’s battle with an outbreak of COVID-19 delta variant.

Fiji has had over 51,000 COVID-19 cases affected to date, with more than 600 lives lost in the last six months of the outbreak.

Using the best available local and international knowledge and approaches is core to this work, and Associate Professor Stephen Howie (University of Auckland) with Fijian colleagues, have worked together to understand the medical oxygen needs in Fiji’s settings, and collaborate in initiatives to address these needs using an evidence-based approach. in close partnership with the Fiji MHMS, Cure Kids has enabled technical innovations in the consistent supply and monitoring of oxygen needs, conduct health systems research addressing access to care, conduct work-force in-service training and capacity-building activities, advocacy and support to special patients in need of a constant supply of Oxygen, and sustainability planning.

Before this grant from MFAT, Cure Kids had raised funds from generous donors including Rotary International and Australian Aid to deliver to Fiji 105 oxygen concentrators and 58 oximeters, which monitor oxygen- levels in patients.. Oxygen concentrators are portable machines that filter nitrogen from air to produce medical-grade oxygen for patients, powered where needed by solar arrays in remote areas. The Cure Kids team had also trained local staff to install, monitor use and maintain the new equipment. These oxygen concentrators were a major source of oxygen for patients affected by COVID 19 infections in hospitals.

“For several years, Cure Kids has worked with leading experts and healthcare professionals to find ways to deliver oxygen to patients, with the goal of ensuring no child in Fiji dies for lack of oxygen. The delta variant of COVID-19 has exacerbated the need for access to oxygen, and our expert team is well-placed to make a difference,” Cure Kids CEO Frances Benge said.

Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Dr James Fong, stated that the ministry acknowledges and appreciates the tremendous support provided by the Australian and New Zealand Governments through Cure Kids and its partners, in improving access to medical oxygen for all Fijians that need it.

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