The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, the journal of the International Union, just published an article I was really happy to see. It argues that while hypoxemia is a big public health problem in developing countries, a lack of access to oxygen treatment and pulse oximetry gets “little or no attention” in global health circles. From what I can gather, the article is right on target. In the abstract, the authors write:
“Improving access to oxygen and pulse oximetry has demonstrated a reduction in mortality from childhood pneumonia by up to 35% in high-burden child pneumonia settings. The cost-effectiveness of an oxygen systems strategy compares favourably with other higher profile child survival interventions, such as new vaccines. In addition to its use in treating acute respiratory illness, oxygen treatment is required for the optimal management of many other conditions in adults and children, and is essential for safe surgery, anaesthesia and obstetric care.”
Unfortunately for a self-proclaimed “call to international action,” access to the full text of the article costs $29.27. While presumably written to get the attention of the western global health community, it seems that the Union or IJTLD might be better served by seeing to it that these pieces are made freely available. I’m sure that the argument and evidence could be valuable to public health and clinical teams in low and middle income settings working to draw attention to the predicament of oxygen therapy right now. If only they could afford it.