Serbian Minister of Health Zlatibor Lončar at Messer
On Wednesday, Serbian Minister of Health Zlatibor Lončar traveled to the headquarters of gases specialist Messer in Bad Soden, Germany, to meet with Stefan Messer, owner and CEO of Messer, and Stefan Dräger, Chairman of the Executive Board of Drägerwerk in Lübeck. They discussed their successful collaboration during the coronavirus pandemic and considered measures that exceptional circumstances may require in the future.
Messer and the Serbian Ministry of Health have been working together very closely and successfully for many years. With the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, they have intensified their cooperation even further to save the lives of people suffering from Covid-19 through the continuous supply of medical gases and gas supply systems.
Dräger, a leading international medical and safety technology company, has been present in Serbia for over 60 years. Last year, Dräger's local organization laid several kilometers of copper pipes in two new Covid hospitals and installed supply units for numerous beds within three months. In addition, numerous existing hospitals received copper piping and supply units for central gas supply with associated ventilators, monitors and equipment for oxygen treatment of seriously ill patients.
In addition, Dräger has set up area control units and oxygen centers and commissioned compressors to enable 15 more existing hospitals to treat patients suffering from Covid 19.
Since the start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, national healthcare systems the world over have developed a heightened awareness of the need for secure supplies of medical gases and gas supply systems as well as other medical equipment such as ventilators and oxygen therapy equipment. It has been shown that in exceptional situations such as a pandemic or epidemic, the quantities required, especially for oxygen and ventilators, can be many times higher.
During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the demand for medical oxygen in Serbia was in some cases actually up to ten times higher than under non-pandemic conditions.
In Serbia, Messer increased the production of medical oxygen to the maximum technically feasible capacity at four filling plants. With the authorization of the responsible regulatory agencies, filling capacities normally dedicated to technical oxygen were also repurposed for medical oxygen. To meet the high demand, the filling plants were converted to three-shift operation. To cover the hospitals’ huge increase in demand for medical oxygen, 13 additional tanks and 20 mobile tanks were deployed to hospitals along with a total of several kilometers of additional pipelines and more than 600 ventilator stations. In July 2020 alone, Messer’s engineering and service team installed 216 oxygen outlets and 300 meters of pipe in a Covid-19 field hospital that had been rapidly set up and was already in operation in the Belgrade region.
To further improve collaboration and thereby enable action suited to the purpose of providing the best possible patient care during future emergencies, Zlatibor Lončar, Stefan Messer and Stefan Dräger jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding. This agreement will ensure that, in a state of emergency, the provision of medical gases and equipment to the Serbian population will have priority.
Zlatibor Lončar: “ The main reason we are working together is to get out of the pandemic through joint efforts. We do not know when this will be, but we are working together to bring the pandemic under control as quickly as possible. Together, we want to prepare for the next 10 years and for any possible future surprise.”
Stefan Messer: “It is important and right to apply the experience gained during the pandemic to enable rapid action for the well-being of people in future emergencies. With our agreement, we are reinforcing our very good collaboration with the Serbian Ministry of Health and Minister Zlatibor Lončar, also for the future. We have specialized in technical and medical gases for more than 120 years now, and in Serbia we are the market leader in our industry. During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, we supplied medical gases – and especially oxygen – with top priority to hospitals and field hospitals in Europe, the Americas and Asia. The Memorandum of Understanding signed today will help us ensure the supply of gases with even greater focus and enable us to support the healthcare system more effectively.”
Stefan Dräger: "We have been making technology for life for 130 years, and we have been present in Serbia for 67 years. During the pandemic, we were in demand like never before. With more than 30 well-trained and qualified employees on site, we were able to fulfill our responsibility, keep the equipment already delivered in the past operational, and put the new installations into service promptly. Now, together with our partners, we want to take the best possible precautions to ensure that we can continue to fulfill our supply mandate at all times in the future."
Stefan Messer also invited the Hessian Minister for Social Affairs and Integration and Minister of Health Kai Klose to the event to give him the opportunity to meet with the representatives of the Serbian Ministry of Health and discuss topics such as the successful Serbian vaccination strategy, but the Hessian Ministry for Social Affairs and Integration did not send any representatives to the meeting in Bad Soden.
Dräger is a leading international medical and safety technology company. Our products protect, support and save lives. Founded in 1889, Dräger generated global sales of around EUR 3.4 billion in 2020. The Lübeck-based company is represented in more than 190 countries and employs more than 15,000 people worldwide.