MSF Steps Up Response In Mali After Surge In COVID-19 Cases

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) popularly known as Doctors Without Borders has resumed in providing emergency response in Mali after a surge in coronavirus cases in Bamako, the capital city.

The West African nation, much like other countries, is experiencing a second wave of the virus since early December, when cases began to increase especially in the capital.

The MSF is currently assisting the state Ministry of Health with the treatment of those infected with the virus, and in containing the spread.

The organisation also noted that the sudden increase in cases has been aggravated by the current harmattan season. The dusty wind is known to cause a number of acute respiratory infections.

“The second wave of the pandemic is mainly affecting Bamako, where over 60 per cent of cases have been registered,”  MSF said in a press statement.

“This latest wave has been characterised by a sharp rise in infections and patients developing severe forms of the disease requiring them to be hospitalised.”.

In the height of the previous wave, Mali recorded less than 300 cases a week but the number doubling during the current second wave with 679 weekly cases in mid-December.

There have been 299 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic in Mali with a population of around 20 million people.

“Given the urgency of the situation, and to support its national partners, MSF has resumed emergency response activities in five Bamako communes,” the organisation said.

“First, MSF is assisting the Ministry of Health medical staff with scaling up capacity to treat patients with severe forms of the virus in a 100-bed unit allocated to Covid-19 patients in Point G University Hospital.

“We have set up a liquid oxygen production plant in the hospital to deliver oxygen to all beds occupied by critically ill patients. And second, MSF teams are supporting the Ministry of Health with following up contact cases, delivering home care to patients who have Covid-19, but do not need to be hospitalised, and identifying those who may require in-patient treatment.”

MSF said it has also engaged in organising outreach programmes to raise awareness on how the people in Bamako’s six communes can protect themselves and curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

A total of 60,000 facemasks have been locally made and distributed with the assistance of the organisation, with handwashing stations set up across Bamako as well.

Florence Uzureau, MSF’s COVID-19 project coordinator in Mali noted that the authorities have also taken up the baton in ensuring a system that can treat all those in need of medical assistance.

“The most striking difference between the first and second wave is the escalation in severe cases. Although in recent months Mali’s authorities have reinforced the system for treating them, given the scale of this second wave MSF is providing support with personnel and medical supplies and helping to scale up capacity to be able to deliver oxygen to the most severely ill patients,” Uzureau said.

“In addition to Bamako, MSF is deployed in Niono, Kidal, Gao, Ansongo, Douentza, Koro, Bankass, Bandiagara, Tenenkou and Koutiala,” MSF added..

“Our teams have been supporting health districts in the fight against Covid-19 with raising people’s awareness of the virus, testing, treating patients and following up contact cases. MSF has also provided personnel, protective equipment and supplies to ensure the safe delivery of care to patients.”

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Hafsah Abubakar Matazu is the current Programme Director at HumAngle. She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Mass Communication from Baze University Abuja. Prior to joining HumAngle, she worked for Abuja-based Daily Trust Newspapers as an investigative reporter. She leads the program team in planning and implementing grants as well as funded and non funded reporting projects. She tweets via @hafsahabubakar_

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