Health professionals at the forefront of combating COVID – at risk

Health professionals are the group most exposed to the new Coronavirus, as they are at the forefront of combating the disease, as they are constantly in contact with patients.

28 May 2020

Health professionals at the forefront of combating COVID – at risk

In Guinea Bissau, they complain about the lack of protective material and greater support for doctors and nurses because the greater the number of health professionals infected, the greater is the impact on serving the population and lower will be the capacity to serve.

“They are the ones who have direct contact, 24/7, with patients, be it suspected or confirmed, carrying out various procedures that increase the risk of transmission of the virus”, recalls the President of the Order of Nurses of Guinea-Bissau, Alberto Oliveira.

The coordinator of the Center for Emergency Health Operations, Dionísio Cumba, said that so far (22 May ) 46 health professionals are infected and confined in different hospital establishments in the country, but the number may be even greater considering the last update date.

Dionisio advises health professionals who have risk factors for the disease to suspend their work as precaution.

“As for health professionals with advanced age who are still in the system, they must be placed in a post with less risk of contamination. This measure is also valid for health workers who have risk factors and want to continue working,” adds Dionisio Cumba.

The President of the Order of Nurses criticizes the lack of protective materials for nurses, in the 114 health areas of the country and says that from the beginning he called the government's attention to the issue of protection of health professionals, “exactly to avoid what you are watching it right now.”

“It is humiliating and disrespectful the way they are treating the nurses' class, and other classes that are infected and have been abandoned by the state of Guinea-Bissau. For me it was a facade putting them all in a hotel and then not paying any attention to them, we must not forget that these people need to recover to assist the population again” warns Alberto Oliveira.

The Government, its second decree extending the state of emergency, promised to guarantee health and life insurance to health professionals. "But I can assure you that so far no one knows what type of insurance they will receive and in the event of death what will be the compensation to the family," said Alberto Oliveira adding that now 25 nurses are infected and confined in one of the capital's hotels.

The President of the Order of Nurses calls on the government of Guinea-Bissau to work harder and create better working conditions “because if we continue at this pace, all nurses will be infected and there will be no one to assist the population,” warns this specialist.

In Guinea-Bissau, until Thursday evening (28 May), there were 1,195 thousand confirmed cases, eight dead and 42 recovered. This expert stated that the dramatic increase in the number of infected people in the country is due to the failure observed in prevention because people were not disciplined.

With the emergence of the pandemic, the UN in Guinea-Bissau switched to humanitarian mode, prioritizing support for the government's contingency plan for the prevention of COVID-19. The United Nations system in Guinea-Bissau has created several taskforces (logistics, communications, health care, resource mobilization) that provide technical and financial support to COES and the interministerial committee established by the government to implement the response.

Under the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Country Team was able to provide the most needed assistance to the country's already weak health structure to respond to the pandemic. The Resident Coordinator, supported by the World Bank and WHO, maintained regular contact with the interministerial committee to discuss, assist and help implement the response to COVID-19. 

UN support has included the provision of medical equipment (ventilators, masks, medical equipment) and COVID-19 tests, repair and refurbishment of a medical facility at the country's main hospital to receive and treat serious COVID-19 cases; the appointment of a COVID-19 coordinator, who will support the implementation of the REDISSE project, support for social mobilization with the main opinion leaders (religious leaders, traditional healers, village chiefs), and the training of the medical and media team and the massive communication campaign for the prevention of COVID-19.