Death toll from malaria and diarrheal diseases stands at 90 in first three weeks of 2020
File photo: Folha de Maputo
In the worst case scenario, the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to the collapse of the Mozambican health service, the Deputy Director of the National Health Institute (INS), Eduardo Samo Gudo, warned on Wednesday.
The INS is drawing up projections on how the Mozambican health sector can cope with Covid-19, bearing in mind that it is already under pressure from other life threatening diseases, including malaria, HIV-AIDS and tuberculosis.
Speaking to Mozambique’s international partners earlier this week, Samo Gudo said there are basically only two possible scenarios. The first is of an exponential growth in infection, in which large numbers of people all fall ill at the same time. This would surpass the number of patients who could be supported by the national health system at any one time.
The second scenario is a slow spread of the disease. In this scenario people would fall ill gradually, and not all at once. The health service could attend to them gradually and would not be overwhelmed.
Hence the need for restrictive measures that would “flatten the curve” – that is, reduce the pace of transmission of the coronavirus – such as those announced last week by President Filipe Nyusi. These include a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people and compulsory 14 days quarantine for anyone returning to Mozambique from abroad.
“We are working on a scenario of anticipating measures of prevention to slow the spread of the virus so that we gain time to prepare ourselves better”, said Samo Gudo. “Mozambique has the advantage that it is one of the last countries to be infected, and we can make use of the positive experiences of others”.
Among the challenges facing Mozambique, he said, is the low level of publicity for preventive measures in the countryside. The habits and customs of traditional rural society could undermine the government’s efforts at prevention.
Also this week, Health Minister Armindo Tiago said the system needs 50 million dollars to buy medicines and protective equipment for health workers, not to mention the sums needed to build and equip 79 district hospitals so that they too could cope with coronavirus patients.
These requirements, Tiago added, are included in the overall sum of 700 million dollars that the government had requested from its international partners.
The pandemic is still at a very early stage in Mozambique, and to date only fivepeople in the country have been diagnosed wiry COVID-19.Source: AIM
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