the anguish from the body of workers at Andohatapenaka College Sanatorium

In Madagascar, the number of Covid-19 pollutants has quadrupled in one week, according to the latest official weekly report released by authorities on Sunday. Four of the country’s 22 regions have registered a sharp increase in the number of cases, including Analamanga, where the capital is located. What about health centers? In Antananarivo at Andohatapenaka University Hospital, which has only been asked to treat patients with Covid-19 in July last year, the situation is overwhelming and staff desperate.

From our correspondent in Antananarivo,

Four hospitals are responsible for welcoming coronavirus patients. At Andohatapenaka CHU, the one that had been requisitioned to only treat patients with Covid-19 during the height of the pandemic last July, the situation is overwhelming. And health professionals, desperate, even before the arrival of another epidemic.

Defective infrastructure

It is called Manarapenitra Hospital, the “hospital of standards”. It was inaugurated in 2014 by the current president. But inside the toilets no longer work, the taps are out of order. And cans of chlorinated water for disinfecting your hands, installed at the entrance to each ward, are desperately empty. As for the tile flooring, it is smashed: “it could not stand incessantly back and forth of carts filled with oxygen bottles under the top of the pandemic” the staff explains.

At the hospital laboratory, it is possible to perform a PCR test for free. “Only, we say sorry, at the reception you have to wait 14 days to get the results.” The sample is taken on site, but not the analysis. “Try looking at another hospital if the delays are shorter, or go straight to Pasteur,” advises the agent behind his desk.

In the service that treats Covid patients, oxygen bottles, all empty, lie in the corridors. Fourteen of the twenty beds were occupied at the beginning of the week, explains this doctor, who requested anonymity.

“For two weeks, the number of Covid cases has continued to increase. Usually, the patient has to stay in the hospital for ten days for treatment. Except we push people to go home very early after five days because there are missing beds. In fact, our reception capacity is limited … because the rooms are not decontaminated. ”

In fear of another wave

“We know that something is being prepared and will fall on us, but everyone closes their eyes. No one takes their responsibility, hands us, bitter and worried, another doctor. The new variant, I think he is already on the island. But we have had no awareness of how to treat this new tribe. When we complain to our ministry, we are told that we must remain calm, that the political situation is too unstable. He reports angrily.

And his colleague to add: “if there is another wave, we are not ready to face it. Due to lack of equipment and due to infrastructure problems that have deteriorated after the previous peak. Right now, our big big problem is that we are lacking oxygen. We can not handle serious cases. ”

In fact, the oxygen generator has been out of order for two years. To repair it, 60 million ariary (€ 13,000) are needed. During the epidemiological peak, donations of oxygen cylinders poured in to supply the hospital vacuum cleaners. But today, this alternative is no longer viable because donations have stopped. According to the nursing staff, the means to ensure a constant supply of oxygen are lacking. And unwanted power outages on site pose a real risk to patients placed under these oxygen extractors.

In terms of protective equipment, it is incomplete. Adequate caps and masks are missing. Drugs – distributed free to patients with Covid – remain available. However, neither CVO nor CVO +, the traditional Malagasy drugs that President Rajoelina so highly praises “for their preventive and curative effects,” are offered to patients, the medical team says.

But the staff has seen worse, so they grind their teeth. But until when? Many frontline trainees from the first hour of treatment for Covid patients have so far still not received the risk premium of 200,000 ariary (€ 43) per patient. Month as promised by the government. “We sacrificed ourselves during the pandemic, we were at the bedside of the sick, without protection, night and day, and today, when we assert our guilt, we understand that we are not yet PhD students, and that if we open it too much, our career can end, ”complains in chorus three interns from the service.

In light of the rise in cases, the health minister warned in a filmed speech on Tuesday 12 January: “without respecting barrier movements, the risk of returning to a re-inclusion is not ruled out”, before announcing the reopening of a Covid reception center in the capital to investigate and if necessary, treat patients who show symptoms of the virus.

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