Demonstrate support for increased access to oxygen therapy for newborns, children, and pregnant women

Demonstrate support for increased access to oxygen therapy for newborns, children, and pregnant women

Article posted on March 22, 2017.

If oxygen were readily available, childhood deaths from pneumonia could be reduced by at least 35%

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  • Advocate for oxygen therapy. Spread the word and help ensure access to O2 is not limited by location or luck
  • Health advisors, practitioners, partners: Oxygen therapy is a lifesaving treatment. Tell country leaders:  #EML
  • Why is oxygen therapy so difficult to access and provide in some settings? From PATH: #globalhealth

Photo Credit: PATH

PATH’s Elevating Oxygen project is implementing the HO2PE: Oxygen Gives Life campaign to increase global awareness of oxygen’s important role in newborn, child and maternal health and call on country decision-makers to prioritize access to oxygen in their efforts to achieve universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.

As many of you know, oxygen is an essential treatment for hypoxemia, which requires early detection and monitoring with pulse oximetry for safe provision. Hypoxemia often goes undiagnosed, and many deaths occur when monitoring is infrequent or absent.1 Improving access to oxygen and pulse oximetry has demonstrated a 35 percent reduction in the risk of childhood pneumonia death in certain high-burden settings.2

In November 2016, PATH submitted an application to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 21st Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines to include an additional listing for oxygen for the management of hypoxemia on the Model List of Essential Medicines (EML) and Model List of Essential Medicines for Children (EMLc). The Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines will meet in Geneva in late March, and we anticipate the new EML and EMLc may be published in April.

The WHO EML and EMLc serve as guides for essential medicines lists developed by countries and institutions. Our hope is that highlighting oxygen’s vital role in managing hypoxemia in normative guidance such as the WHO EML and EMLc will support and stimulate efforts by ministries of health and institutions around the world to increase access to this lifesaving commodity.

We greatly appreciate the support many of you provided to our campaign to date, and are reaching out to you now with additional opportunities to highlight your commitment to increasing access to oxygen, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.

Below are some ways in which you can help support this effort:

Be an Advocate for Oxygen

Our HO2PE campaign promotes the importance of prioritizing access to oxygen in maternal, newborn, and child health policies. Support this campaign by  promoting via your social media channels, as appropriate. A social media toolkit with messaging, photos, a video, and an infographic is accessible via this Dropbox link.

Incorporate Oxygen in the Coalition’s 2017 Activities

As the Coalition develops its 2017 advocacy plan, consider how advocacy for access to oxygen may be integrated into broader efforts to engage key target audiences. Equitable access to oxygen, especially for the most vulnerable, should be a basic element of any health system and investing in oxygen systems is a win for all parties.

Learn More About PATH’s Oxygen-Related Work

Please visit PATH’s oxygen publications page, which includes several publications related to our work to increase access to oxygen treatment and pulse oximetry in low-resource settings, including content on bubble continuous positive airway pressure (bCPAP), neonatal resuscitation devices, and other oxygen technologies.

Thank you for joining us in the effort to improve availability of oxygen therapy for every newborn, child, and pregnant woman in need. Together we can spread the word and help ensure that access to oxygen is not limited by location or luck.


1. Nolan T, Angos P, Cunha A, et al. Quality of hospital care for seriously ill children in less-developed countries. The Lancet. 2001;357(9250):106–110. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(00)03542-X.

2. Duke T, Wandi F, Jonathan M, et al. Improved oxygen systems for childhood pneumonia: a multihospital effectiveness study in Papua New Guinea. The Lancet. 2008;372(9646):1328–1333. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61164-2.