By Kebba AF Touray
Officials of the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) have informed the National Assembly Select Committee on Health that the inadequate supply of needed daily consumables is posing a serious challenge to them in their resolve to fight against COVID-19.
The officials told the committee during its ongoing visit to the disaster hotspots and COVID-19 testing centers to see the true state of affairs in the aforesaid areas.
Professor Ousman Nyan, Chief Medical Director (CMD) of EFSTH, said both the sanatorium and Ndemban clinic fall under the purview of the EFSTH, adding that as an institution, they have a liaison person for the intra institution arrangements and intra institution team that deal with COVID-19 matters.
“With the increase in numbers of COVID-19 patients, Ndemban center has good number of patients. Most of them are asymptomatic patients,” he said.
“One of such challenges at the Bakau center is the oxygen which is why we still transfer the symptomatic patients to the Sanatorium center which has facilities for giving oxygen treatment as appropriate.”
Prof. Nyan said with the second wave of COVID 19, the institution has been sensitized and strengthened for infection control and security among others for control of infection. He stressed that cases are increasing with the second wave, but said they have not seen increase in severe cases yet.
Dr. Sheikh Omar Bittaye, Coordinator of the COVID- 19 Taskforce, told the committee that they do issue a weekly report to the CMD, stating the number of screen, positive cases, and the number of deaths. He said at the end of the first surge, they conducted a study to review all the patients they have admitted in the EFSTH.
Bittaye said they have detected that people at over 60 years are more risk to be affected and may die of the COVID-19 diseases.
He said diabetic patients are also at risk of dying and that those who have an oxygen circulation in less than or equal to 93 percent are also at high risk of dying of the disease.
Bittaye said the challenges they are facing include motivation. He called for the motivation of junior staff because without that, some of them may be reluctant to continue offering health care delivery service because it is risky.
“The other challenge is that though oxygen has been continuously given, but we need more of the consumables, such as facemasks and breathing mask etc. to go along with oxygen. We have them but we need more of them,” he said.
Malang Ndong, the Admin Director, said at the moment, the monthly risk allowance for the staff working at the sanatorium is D2500. However, he said they are working towards ensuring that the allowances are increased.
Horeja Saine, Cheif Matron, said they are faced with challenges such as allowances, working tools regarding consumables which are needed by the healthcare workers to protect themselves in their work.
He said they are constrained with consumables such as gloves and masks, saying these tools are inadequate but needed to protect medical workers and families.
Amadou Camara, law maker and member of the select committee, told the officials that they have taken note of the concerns raised, while assuring EFSTH Officials that they will take up the issues raised by the staff, especially on the need to allocate distinctive subvention for the health sector, in a bid to address the challenges facing them.
Ousman Sallah, Chairperson of the Health Committee, also informed the officials that the visit was not a witch hunting exercise but a fact finding mission to ascertain the state of the targeted areas, identity challenges and devise means of providing remedies to the challenges.
As the country is in the second wave of COVID-19, he said their visit was also aimed at knowing what is in place to support the health care workers, such as the needed laws for the legislature to approve.