COVID-19 Oxygen Solutions in Malawi


The Malawian Ministry of Health and Intaka Tech embarked on a significant project to supply two 72 kg/h Oxygen Concentration Plants at Blantyre’s Queen Elisabeth Central Hospital and Lilongwe’s Kamuzu Central Hospital, which included a medical gas distribution network of some 16 000 meters along with ancillary equipment’s such as gas manifolds, medical air, suction plants and oxygen cylinder filling systems. Unfortunately, the project progressed slowly due to financial constraints resulting in implementation delays.

In March, this year the project was given a boost by the Malawi-Liverpool-Welcome Trust (MLW), a large vibrant health research entity based in Blantyre and an integral part of the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the grave concern that Malawi’s healthcare system will not be able to cope, Professor Stephen Gordon, the Director of MLW, contacted Intaka’s General Manager Mr Stefan Oosthuizen’s during South Africa’s hard lockdown to open discussions to fast-track the installation of the oxygen equipment in preparation for Covid-19 in Southern Malawi.

Both Intaka and the MLW embarked on a huge effort to get the oxygen systems installed and operational at Blantyre’s Queen Elisabeth Central Hospital. The oxygen plant room’s construction plans were submitted by Intaka to MLW who in turn appointed Sr. Nicholas to construct the facility, during which time Intaka finalised the equipment and the procurement of specific materials and components during the lockdown.

With regional air travel grounded during lockdown, MLW speedily organised a privately chartered jet, owned and operated by the Illovo Sugar Group, to fly Intaka’s project team to Blantyre on the 26th of May. By the 19th of June, the equipment was successfully installed and commissioned. This included a further COVID-19 specific installation of 322m of medical oxygen pipelines and 71 oxygen points at the hospital.

On the 19 June 2020, the Minister of Local Government, Dr Ben Phiri, officially opened the medical gas plant at the Queen Elisabeth Central Hospital together with senior politicians, directors from the Ministry of Health, Professor Stephen Gordon, MLW delegates and the Intaka team.

The combined efforts of Intaka, MLW and the Ministry of Health made this project possible in just 3 months, which is a huge achievement considering the magnitude of the equipment and site preparations required. Many lives will be saved now that the respiratory wards and the rest of the hospital are supplied with oxygen by the Intaka plant through the pipeline systems installed, not to mention the hospitals ability to fill its own oxygen cylinders. A special thanks goes out to the Illovo group for their very generous offer to fly the Intaka team to and from Malawi, without which the installation could not have taken place.

The installation of the system at Kamuzu Central Hospital is imminent with the plant room construction near completion and expect the delivery and installation to commence over the next few weeks. Intaka is in discussion with the Ministry on further systems in the country, and with Intaka’s established footprint in Malawi, Intaka is well positioned to support and maintain these systems. All systems are supplied with a preventative maintenance program of 3 to 5 years, which are renewable.

Illovo Newsletter – Intaka Gas Installation

Thank you letter from Professor Stephen Gordon