Infections in Africa are increasing day by day, this is the alarm raised by the director of the International Committee of the Red Cross for Africa about the devastating consequences for the population that the pandemic can cause on the continent. Also Uganda has not been spared despite the restrictive measures imposed by the government: the number of people suffering from coronavirus has risen to 61, there are only 12 intensive care units across the Country, with a total of 55 beds.
Medical and health staff in Kalongo is working hard on the emergency plan to deal with the epidemic with the support of the Foundation and the Italian doctors who have returned to Italy; the pediatrician Tito Squillaci is on the front line.
The main problems that the hospital has to face are: on the one hand preventing the infection of the healthcare professionals considering the extremely limited availability of personal protective equipment; on the other hand avoiding the contagion among the patients, since carrying out swabs is almost impossible and there is a constant need to nurse patients suffering from pneumonia and breathing difficulties due to other diseases, especially in the pediatric ward. Guaranteeing oxygen supply becomes crucial, as the number of concentrators is not enough even under normal conditions.
There is no intensive care in Kalongo nor can it be set up because of the need of expensive and scarcely available equipment, but above all because of the lack of qualified staff.
The plan must be implemented with extreme urgency, as Dr. Tito Squillaci points out, without waiting for the first case to reach Kalongo. The virus can begin to spread in the community about 7-10 days before the first patient is detected. At the time of the first reliable diagnosis, the epidemic may already be out of control.
We should not forget that Dr. Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital is the only reference health center for an area populated by more than 500,000 people and where there is no other real treatment, a lifeline for the population of Agago district and the 6 neighboring districts.
Kalongo hospital has been identified as Hub Covid, the district reference centre for suspected cases and for the treatment of moderate cases, while the most serious ones should be referred to hospitals equipped with intensive care beds. Dr. Godfrey Smart, a surgeon and CEO of the hospital, is a part of the district task force for the Covid emergency.
The Ministry of Health has also established an outreach plan, which requires the hospital lab technician to carry out the swab at home. A decentralization plan is also being developed for the analysis of the evaluations, that are examined today by the Uganda Virus Research Institute of Kampala for which Kalongo hospital would become the district reference hub also for the analysis.
The alert is therefore very high, because differently from our hospitals that have the means, equipment and resources, although they are struggling, Kalongo hospital will have to fight the battle against Covid19 with bare hands and everything will be played on prevention.
The Foundation works making every effort to guarantee equipment, protective devices and medications to support the hospital and the local population; we are worried above all for those people suffering from malnutrition and HIV, hepatitis, that have a very weak immune system and are more exposed to the risk of contracting the virus.
Any contribution is essential to avoid the spread of the pandemic in an area that has always lived in the daily emergency.
Do not leave them alone.
Testimony collected by Ilaria Fumi pediatrics specialist of Idea Onlus