Global Oxygen Alliance launched to boost access to life saving oxygen
[For more information about GO2AL and its new Strategy: executive summary, please visit the GO2AL website.]
Oxygen, a life-saving medicine to treat acute respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and pneumonia, is essential for surgery, trauma, emergency and critical care, and treating older persons, pregnant women, and new-borns. Medical oxygen is also proving to be a critical tool in pandemic preparedness as the world braces itself for potential future outbreaks of respiratory diseases.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which left many patients literally gasping for air, exacerbated chronic shortages of medical oxygen in low- and middle-income countries, leading to many preventable deaths and straining the already fragile health systems.
Even before COVID-19 swept across the world, nine in ten hospitals in low- and middle-income countries were unable to provide oxygen therapy, resulting in as many as 800,000 preventable deaths each year.
Against this backdrop, the Oxygen Emergency Taskforce of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) was launched in February 2021 to coordinate the response of multilateral agencies and mobilize grant financing to help low and middle-income countries deal with acute oxygen shortages.
As WHO declares an end to COVID-19 as a global health emergency, a new Global Oxygen Alliance (GO2AL) is launched by global health partners to continue the essential work of the ACT-A Oxygen Emergency Taskforce, which raised more than US$1 billion to boost access to medical oxygen, including financing to expand production, lower the price of oxygen and provide technical support to governments. Taskforce achievements include negotiating ground-breaking agreements with the world’s two largest medical oxygen suppliers, drawing up plans to increase regional production of oxygen in low- and middle-income countries, and helping more than 100 countries to upgrade their treatment facilities.
GO2AL is designed to provide sustained support for low- and middle-income countries to fill yawning gaps in the availability and supply of medical oxygen. A core objective of GO2AL is to support countries with technical cooperation, financial solutions, capacity building, and demand-generation, to ensure that investments in oxygen systems made during the COVID-19 crisis are sustained. GO2AL will also engage in political advocacy and give a voice to those making oxygen systems work on the ground and those who need it.
Access to medical oxygen also supports treatment of severe malaria, advanced HIV disease, and tuberculosis. Full access to oxygen, as well as pulse oximeters—portable devices that estimates the oxygen saturation of patient’s blood — could reduce mortality from all causes among hospitalized children by as much as 40 percent.
GO2AL is also closely collaborating with the Lancet Global Health Commission on Medical Oxygen Security, launched in September 2022 to address major gaps in oxygen research, mobilise a broad coalition to accelerate delivery of medical oxygen and reduce mortality and morbidity globally.
GO2AL was established in April 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 the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and Unitaid sharing the secretariat.
Members of the ACT-A Oxygen Emergency Task Force have chosen to join GO2AL, including: Access to Medicine Foundation; Africa CDC; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Clinton Health Access Initiative; The Every Beath Counts Coalition; The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; PAHO; PATH; Save the Children; UNICEF; Unitaid; UNOPS; USAID; WHO; and the World Bank. New members, including representation from low- and middle-income countries, civil society and communities, are being invited as GO2AL strives to build a stronger and a more diverse and inclusive membership.
The Global Oxygen Alliance’s official website will also be launched soon.
- Read the full press release: “Global Oxygen Alliance launched to boost access to life saving oxygen“.
- Unitaid and medical oxygen (FACTSHEET)
Increasing access to medical oxygen: Actions to ensure sustained gains
This World Health Assembly (WHA) high-level side event marked the adoption of the “Increasing Access to Medical Oxygen” WHA resolution and introduced the Global Oxygen Alliance (GO2AL) as two important steps in recognizing and reaffirming the critical role of medical oxygen in building resilient health systems.
This high-level side event Increasing access to medical oxygen: Action to ensure sustained gains was convened by the newly established Global Oxygen Alliance (GO2AL), with the support of Unitaid, the World Health Organization, and PATH. The event marked the adoption of the “Increasing Access to Medical Oxygen” World Health Assembly resolution and introduce GO2AL as two important steps in recognizing and reaffirming the critical role of medical oxygen in building resilient health systems.
The event was hosted by Mr. Jérôme Bonnafont, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Office in Geneva and international organizations in Switzerland, on the sidelines of the 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva on Wednesday, 24 May 2023, from 17:30 – 20:30.
The event included two sessions: (1) high-level panel discussions followed by (2) a cocktail reception. More information is available in the event programme, available in English and French.
Photo gallery: Increasing access to medical oxygen: Action to ensure sustained gains
The high-level panel discussions were divided in two parts, with opening and closing remarks. See below for more details.
The audience was welcomed by the French Ambassador for Global Health, with introductions from partners at PATH, and opening remarks from representatives of the Ugandan Ministry of Health, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Health Organization. See below for highlights from their remarks.
Part 1: World Health Assembly “Increasing access to medical oxygen” resolution
The first panel was opened and moderated by oxygen champions from the World Health Organization. Representatives from Chad, Nepal, and Peru discussed the importance of oxygen in their respective countries, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of the WHA resolution to sustain those gains. See below for highlights from their remarks.
Part 2: Launch of the Global Oxygen Alliance (GO2AL)
The second panel was opened and moderated by the Executive Director of the Lean on Me Foundation. Representatives from multilateral agencies and leaders of GO2AL, including Unitaid, The Global Fund, World Heath Organization/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF, discussed the importance of the Alliance in continuing and building upon the efforts to scale up oxygen beyond the pandemic response. See below for highlights from their remarks.
The panel discussions were closed by the Canadian Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations and the Assistant Director-General of Universal Health Coverage/Life Course at the World Health Organization. See below for highlights from their remarks.
Other event resources
- Dedicated webpage (PATH.org) website: https://www.path.org/programs/market-dynamics/increasing-access-to-medical-oxygen-actions-to-ensure-sustained-gains
- Increasing access to medical: Actions to ensure sustained gains speaker biographies
- Global Oxygen Alliance Introduction slides
- WHO resolution: Increasing access to medical oxygen brief
Web story: “Boosting medical oxygen supplies in the Democratic Republic of Congo”
Web story: “Unlocking the door to oxygen access – pulse oximetry as part of a holistic approach”
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Hervé Verhoosel | +33 6 22 59 73 54 | email@example.com