United for Oxygen

United for Oxygen


World’s first public-private partnership to increase access to oxygen and pulse oximetry launched at Clinton Global Initiative


This press release is by the Pneumonia Innovations Team and cross posted here with permission.

New York City, Wednesday September 21st—In the final plenary session of the last Clinton Global Initiative, Chelsea Clinton announced “United for Oxygen”, the world’s first effort by a consortium of government, industry, foundation and civil society organizations to scale-up access to pulse oximetry and oxygen in health facilities in Ethiopia, with a special focus on reducing deaths among children under five and pregnant women.

Improved access to oxygen has the potential to benefit the 3 million Ethiopian women who give birth each year and their newborns, as well as 20% of the estimated 4 million cases of child pneumonia (1). Each year 11,000 Ethiopian women die in pregnancy and childbirth, 60,000 babies die in the first month of life and 30,000 children die from pneumonia. Babies who are born preterm, or who contract sepsis or pneumonia early in life are particularly vulnerable to death from these causes, as are women and children in remote communities with little or no access to health services.

Chelsea Clinton was joined on stage by several of the fifteen members of United for Oxygen, including Masimo, PATH, the Pneumonia Innovations Team and Save the Children and outlined how the commitment will support the Government of Ethiopia’s Medical Oxygen and Pulse Oximetry Scale Up Road Map by: (a) increasing the availability of pulse oximetry screening and oxygen therapy technologies in specific health centers and hospitals, (b) training local staff in the use of the new technologies, (c) establishing sustainable financing solutions for the procurement, installation and maintenance of the new equipment, and (d) prioritizing pulse oximetry and oxygen access in the policies and guidelines of the Ethiopian health authorities and of the major international development agencies (2).

The Ethiopian Government has described the oxygen access agenda as central to their own 2015-2020 Health Sector Transformation Plan and to their 2015-2020 National Newborn and Child Survival Strategy. Increasing access to oxygen is also critical to the achievement of the new Sustainable Development Goals relating to health and to the implementation of the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. A recent survey of 314 Health Centers and 110 Hospitals in Ethiopia revealed that only 11% of Health Centers and just 45% of hospital pediatric wards manage oxygen with a tiny minority (less than 14%) of staff trained to actually operate the technology.

Following the successful implementation of the Government’s plan, the United for Oxygen partners will promote and seek to extend the Ethiopian oxygen access model to other countries with high levels of maternal, newborn and child deaths throughout South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to reducing maternal, newborn and child deaths, improved oxygen and pulse oximetry access can reduce death rates from cardiac arrest, acute blood loss, pulmonary edema, trauma (e.g. road traffic accidents) and unsafe surgery.

For additional information about United for Oxygen, please visit the Clinton Global Initiative.


Contact: Leith Greenslade, Co-Chair, Pneumonia Innovations Team, leith@justactions.org, Ph. (917) 969-6084. 

The Pneumonia Innovations Team is a global network of more than 350 organizations committed to accelerating the development and adoption of new technologies with the greatest potential to reduce global child deaths from pneumonia, especially among the most vulnerable children. United for Oxygen was conceived at the Pneumonia Innovations Summit in November 2015.


1Kuti et al, 2013 and Rudan et al, 2008
2Other partners include Adara Development, Assist International, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Development Incubator, Grand Challenges Canada, Philips, UNICEF, the US Fund for UNICEF and USAID