The functioning of oxygen concentrators in resource-limited settings: a situation assessment in two countries

Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2011 May;15(5):693-9. doi: 10.5588/ijtld.10.0544.


Setting: The paediatric wards of hospitals in Malawi and Mongolia.

Objective: To describe oxygen concentrator functioning in two countries with widespread, long-term use of concentrators as a primary source of oxygen for treating children.

Design: A systematic assessment of concentrators in the paediatric wards of 15 hospitals in Malawi and nine hospitals in Mongolia.

Results: Oxygen concentrators had been installed for a median of 48 months (interquartile range [IQR] 6-60) and 36 months (IQR 12-96), respectively, prior to the evaluation in Malawi and Mongolia. Concentrators were the primary source of oxygen. Three quarters of the concentrators assessed in Malawi (28/36) and half those assessed in Mongolia (13/25) were functional. Concentrators were found to remain functional with up to 30 000 h of use. However, several concentrators were functioning very poorly despite limited use. Concentrators from a number of different manufacturers were evaluated, and there was marked variation in performance between brands. Inadequate resources for maintenance were reported in both countries.

Conclusion: Years after installation of oxygen concentrators, many machines were still functioning, indicating that widespread use can be sustained in resource-limited settings. However, concentrator performance varied substantially. Procurement of high-quality and appropriate equipment is critical, and resources should be made available for ongoing maintenance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Developing Countries / economics
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure
  • Equipment and Supplies, Hospital / economics
  • Equipment and Supplies, Hospital / standards*
  • Hospital Units
  • Humans
  • Malawi
  • Mongolia
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage*
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Time Factors


  • Oxygen