Access to medical oxygen: a glaring global inequity

Since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic more than six months ago, we have passed many grim milestones — worldwide, there have now been more than 35 million cases and 1 million deaths from the disease.

As the virus continues to expand its reach, it is worsening the public health disparities and inequities that advocates have been warning about for decades and making the devastating consequences of inaction harder and harder to ignore.

One of the glaring global inequities creating enormous quality-of-care challenges for doctors, nurses, and other health care providers, especially in countries with fragile health systems, is limited access to medical oxygen. In low-resource settings around the world, where many lack access even to electricity and clean water, oxygen availability is severely limited.

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The disparity in safe, reliable access to medical oxygen — which is needed to treat a range of diseases and

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