[VIDEO]: Bill Gates praises Kenyan doctor saving COVID-19 patients with low-cost oxygen

Dr Bernard Olayo
Dr Bernard Olayo. [Photo]

American billionaire Bill Gates has lauded a Kenyan doctor Bernard Olayo for his selflessness in saving the lives of COVID-19 patients. 

Speaking on Wednesday in Heroes in the Field segment on YouTube, Gates said that Dr Olayo’s innovation of Hewatele aimed at ensuring there is a constant supply of medical oxygen in Kenyan hospitals is a show of dedication.

He said Dr Olayo was thoughtful to have embarked on a mission which ensures that such a basic medical facility is always available.

Coronavirus patients in critical condition need constant oxygen supply pumped into their respiratory system.

“As Covid-19 spreads across Africa, healthcare facilities across the continent face shortages of basic medical supplies needed to treat the respiratory disease. Not only masks and ventilators buts something people in rich countries take for granted: oxygen. This hero is playing a critical role in Kenya’s preparations to tackle COVID-19 by scaling up medical oxygen supplies that will be needed to keep the most critically ill patients alive,” Gates stated.

Olayo in his inspiration that founded Hewatele says he couldn’t take it watching patients die due to lack of oxygen which almost ran out of supply as soon as coronavirus pandemic struck.

It is after this that the government approached him with a plea to scale up the production of oxygen.

He says that he set up plants in the main hospitals to lower the cost of production by 50 percent and increase reliability. 

 “In Kenya, oxygen costs about 13 times more than what it does in the US. The high cost was driven, in part, by a lack of competition. I decided to build oxygen plants at several of the busiest hospitals in the country, where demand is highest and reliable electricity for production is available. The oxygen is then sent out for delivery using a milkman model, with oxygen cylinders regularly dropped off at remote hospitals and clinics and the empty cylinders returned to be refilled,” he stated.

This, he says, has made it easier for doctors to handle COVID-19 patients.

“The goal is that no health worker would ever have to make the painful decision that I did where you have to choose who lives or dies. It breaks your heart and no doctor should be put in such a situation,” Dr Olayo asserted.

This necessitated Bill Gates to recognise him as a hero in the field, with the American adding that more needs to be done to ensure that everyone has access to this simple medical intervention.

Gates opined that though Dr Olayo has made tremendous effort in addressing this challenge, the government should also step in to save many more in the future.