Lack of beds in hospitals hinders intervention action
16 May 2011: Almost 5,600 cases of cholera have been counted and 179 people lost their lives to the deathly disease the new epidemic hit the country. In the Obala health district in the Centre region, one of the most affected regions in the country, patients are sent back home due to lack of beds in hospitals.
No beds for the patients
"I spent all night sitting on a chair. My knees hurt and I had to stand up regularly throughout the night to allow blood to circulate properly," complains Ibrahim*, who had his eyes fixed at the entrance of the hospital while waiting to be discharged. He’s not the only one who received treatment sitting on benches or lying on the floor. The health center is equipped with 15 beds only designated to host cholera patients.
Health authorities are overwhelmed by all the number of new cases arriving daily. Lack of beds is not the only challenge the treatment centers are facing: potable water and electricity supply are inadequate for the needs of the victims of the epidemic.
Managing the situation
Because of the lack of rooms, the hospital staff were obliged to select cases. The most severe cases are referred to the Yaoundé University Hospital, other cases are simply sent home:
"If there are cholera patients who can afford the treatment at domicile, we give them drugs and prescriptions to follow and send them back home. Patients are also asked to come back as soon as possible if there is no improvement or if the situation worsens. Those who stay in the hospital are being sent home immediately when they start feeling better,” says Dr. Njokou, Acting Director of the Obala District Hospital.
"With the help of Plan we can decrease the number of cases and stem the epidemic,” said Dr. Njokou with optimism.
Working on the ground
Plan is currently carrying its after-cholera action plan with Ministry of Education. Since last August 2010 up to July 2011, Plan has pledged a budget of 18 million CFA (about 40,000 US$) to support government action and intensify training on prevention and management of epidemic outbreaks.
“The funding has provided sanitation and hygiene kits. It trained teachers on basic cholera prevention and sanitation; constructed school latrines and water points in schools to protect the lives of children who are most vulnerable to outbreaks,” said Casimir Youmbi, Plan Programme Support Manager.
“We have a lot of experience to help manage this renewed outbreak after having intervened during the 2010 cholera epidemic and contributing to prevention and containment of its spread in the region,” added Casimir.
Plan has already raised US$300,000 to help the victims of the epidemic and prevent further spread– but much more is needed. Please, make a donation to provide lifesaving support to the people impacted by the cholera epidemic.
Read more about Plan intervention action.
* Name changed for child protection reasons