By: Joyce Anin-Aryeko
Tema-based iron and steel production company, B5Plus, says it is ready to increase its free medical oxygen supply to cover all hospitals across Ghana, the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mukesh Thakwani has said.
Medical oxygen is an essential medicine used by healthcare professionals to treat patients with severe to critical health conditions.
It is important in the treatment of COVID-19, because the Sars CoV-2 virus targets the respiratory system, which leads to an inflammation of the lungs. Abnormally low concentration of oxygen in the blood in some instances, leads to hypoxaemia or an abnormally low concentration of oxygen in the blood, which is the leading cause of death among COVID-19 patients.
Mr Thakwani said over the past one year, the company has spent more than GHC 5 million to supply free oxygen to over 100 hospitals as part of its corporate social responsibilities since the outbreak of COVID-19.
He said currently, the company is capable of producing 2,000 to 2,500 cylinders of oxygen a month.
“My company has given out free supplies to private and government hospitals throughout the country since March 2020. So far, about 100 hospitals have benefitted from the free supplies which are part of our corporate social responsibility,” he disclosed.
Mr. Thakwani said this was the company’s ‘widow’s mite’ contribution in support of the government’s COVID-19 fight.
He said the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, for example, has been receiving over 1,000 cylinders of supplies, which has enabled them to save thousands of lives.
Medical oxygen is also important for the use by patients at Intensive Care Units who suffer from respiratory conditions such as pneumonia and currently COVID-19, and it is also essential for surgery and trauma management, while vulnerable groups like the elderly, pregnant women and new-borns, need medical oxygen on regular basis to survive in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs).
At the height of the pandemic, most of the deaths reported in Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, eSwatini, Mozambique, and Botswana were due to the shortage of medical oxygen.
Thakwani said Ghana used to import its major steel products from all over the globe, including neighbouring countries like Togo and Ivory Coast, but noted that the company’s operations now make it a net exporter to the West African region.
The first phase of an $80 million steel plant belonging to the B5Plus conglomerate in Ghana at Prampram in Accra was commissioned in April 2021.
The second phase of the project, estimated at some $70 million, will have an installed capacity of 300,000 tonnes of mixed steel goods.
The plant, with an initial installed capacity of 250,000 tonnes per annum, will serve as the largest steel and iron fabrication centre in the country and the West African region.
The steel manufacturing plant, which employs some 2,000 people, operates under the government’s flagship ‘One District, One Factory’ initiative.
The company’s operations are hinged on converting scrap metal gathered from across the country into building materials, which are feeding the construction industries in Ghana and the ECOWAS region.
B5Plus has more than 1,000 distributors across Ghana, making it the biggest distribution network of steel, “and with branches in major regions, we get quality goods at competitive rates to the doorstep of every Ghanaian.”