All you need to know about a CPAP machine and why it trended during #OccupyJulorbiHouse protest

The poor state of infrastructure in most public hospitals across the country has been a bane in the delivery of effective healthcare for Ghanaians over the years.

CPAP Machine

Despite the efforts of successive governments to fix some of these challenges in recent times, it, however, looks like it's getting worse by the day.

Some of these challenges came to the fore in the recent #OccupyJulorbiHouse protests where the youth of Ghana took to the streets and on social media to demonstrate against the poor leadership and shambolic public infrastructure in the country.

In detailing some of the issues they face at work, some doctors shared videos and pictures of the outmoded and improvised logistics they use in their various hospitals across the country.

One medical equipment that got the attention of Ghanaians and how it is poorly being used in the various hospitals was the CPAP machine.


They showed how they use plastic water bottles to do CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) for premature babies or new-borns with respiratory difficulties to aid them until they can breathe on their own.

Pulse Ghana spoke to a Registered Nurse about the uses of a CPAP machine and why Ghanaian doctors are improvising with plastic water bottles. The Registered Nurse shared some insights, explaining the need for doctors to find a way around in their bid to save lives.

Here are details of the notes shared by the RN:


When a baby is born and that baby has any form of obstruction in the airway or inability of the newborn to sustain continuous respiration, which results in the newborn being unable to breathe well independently, there is a machine called the Neonatal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine that is used to provide respiratory support to the newborn (helps the newborn to breathe well).

Neonatal means pertaining to newborns. The Neonatal CPAP machine has a mechanism for delivering constant oxygen concentration under continuous pressure to help maintain adequate lung capacity and consequently prevent the lungs of the newborn from collapsing. Basically, the machine delivers oxygen to a baby's airway at a set pressure, which keeps the airway open and prevents airway obstruction). This eventually helps improve oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange within the lungs of the newborn.


Improvisation in healthcare simply means you are using local or alternative resources or materials in the absence of real ones in providing healthcare. So in this situation, most (if not all) of the various Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) across Ghana lack the Neonatal CPAP machines.

As a result, the nurses and doctors in order to save the lives of these newborns in the various NICUs, resort to using plastic water bottles, oxygen delivery tubes and other medical consumables which are cut and joined in a special way to mimic the mechanism by which the CPAP machine uses to provide oxygen support to the newborns. Our healthcare system is full of improvising on a daily basis as a healthcare giver. The day all health professionals will decide to stop improvising, there will be chaos in the various hospitals.

The average cost of a CPAP machine is around $2,000 but varies according to the brand and features.

Co-writer: Prince Asiedu Omane


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