United States Ambassador to Nepal, Randy W Berry, along with United States Agency for International Development Nepal Mission Director Sepideh Keyvanshad, donated two liquid oxygen tanks to Bir Hospital and Paropakar Maternity Hospital in Kathmandu yesterday.

These liquid oxygen systems will be connected to the central oxygen system of the hospitals, and will provide uninterrupted supply of oxygen, or refill around 40 cylinders of 40L capacity in an hour. Four more liquid oxygen tanks are being installed in hospitals across the country with USAID's support.

The US also announced today that it is giving an additional $10.5 million in urgent COVID-19 assistance for Nepal through USAID.

The additional funding assistance will strengthen surveillance and contact tracing in municipalities, support laboratory systems, and also expand antigen testing at border crossings.

This funding will also help the Ministry of Health and Population develop protocols and guidelines on COVID-19 management, train and recruit healthcare workers to increase surge capacity, and strengthen critical care.

By working with its partners, USAID also helps COVID patients in isolation facilities and in their homes through telemedicine, ensures continuity of crucial health and rehabilitation services for people with disabilities, and equips local level health facilities with other needed services.

COVID-19 Unified Central Hospital's (Bir Hospital) Chief Executive Officer Dr Bhupendra Basnet, and Paropakar Maternity and Women's Hospital's Director Dr Sangita Mishra were also present at the ceremony organised to hand over the oxygen tanks.

According to the US Embassy, this additional assistance builds on more than $90 million in COVID-19 support from the US government to Nepal that has reached over 60 per cent of the population since the pandemic started. The assistance includes $75 million from USAID in technical and commodity support such as oxygen cylinders, breathing devices, ventilators, and personal protective equipment.

The embassy said the USAID support in the health sector reflected one of the longest standing and one of the most successful development assistance programmes in Nepal. In the last 20 years, USAID has invested over $600 million to improve the quality of health services in Nepal.

"Diseases know no borders. The US is partnering with Nepal to end the COV- ID pandemic, mitigate its devastating social and economic effects, and build back a better world that is prepared to respond to future outbreaks," it said.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 19 2021, of The Himalayan Times.