Kenyan Doctor's Sacrifice Attracts Bill Gates Recognition [VIDEO]

  • File image of Dr Bernard Olayo (left) and Bill Gates (right)
    File image of Dr Bernard Olayo (left) and Bill Gates (right)
  • A selfless doctor in Kenya attracted the praise and recognition of renowned billionaire Bill Gates on Tuesday, June 30, over his sacrifice and dedication to aid Coronavirus (Covid-19) patients.

    Bernard Olayo founded Hewatele, which translates to abundant air, an innovative oxygen supply company, to help alleviate the shortage of medical oxygen in Kenya and across Africa.

    "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," Bill Gates stated in his segment dubbed Heroes in the Field.

    Dr Bernard Oyalo, a medic who attracted Bill Gates praise on Tuesday, June 30, 2020
    Dr Bernard Oyalo, a medic who attracted Bill Gates praise on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

    Coronavirus attacks the respiratory tract, inflaming the lungs and making it difficult for patients to breathe. Oxygen, delivered through a mask or nasal tube, is an essential and effective first line of treatment that’s less invasive than being on a ventilator. 

    Oxygen is also needed to run a ventilator. However, if Covid-19 patients have access to oxygen as an initial treatment, it may prevent many of them from reaching the critically ill stage where one requires a ventilator.

    Olayo stated that he founded Hewatele after he was approached by the government to scale production of Oxygen. The medic stated that he was heartbroken by how patients succumbed while a doctor watched helplessly. 

    "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 system ensures that there is always more than enough oxygen available at each facility. Using this new approach, Hewatele cut the market price for oxygen in Kenya by 50%.

    "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," Olayo stated.

    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.

    "Thanks to Bernard’s efforts, progress is being made. His work has already helped save the lives of thousands of children and adults and will save many more in the future—one breath at a time," Gates lauded. 

    File image of Bill and Melinda Gates
    File image of Bill Gates and Melinda Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Video: YouTube/Bill Gates