By Vatican News
Many countries around the world are easing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and restarting their economies, which have been brought to a standstill in these past months. Some others, however, remain hesitant as they struggle to keep the Covid-19 infection rate under control.
As of Monday, Burkina Faso reportedly has 53 deaths out of 987 confirmed coronavirus cases in the crisis, which has affected over 400,000 people on the African continent.
Reacting to the situation, Father Modeste Ouedraogo of the Camillian order said that the country has “one of the highest mortality rates in West Africa.”
This “means that we are not sufficiently resourceful in the treatment of the most serious cases due to lack of resources and qualified personnel,” said Fr. Ouedraogo who serves as a doctor at Saint Camillus Hospital in Ouagadougou.
The major cause for concern for the Camillian priest “is the lack of means and resources.” He reports that in all of the country, “there are only seventeen respirators for 20 million people” and “only three hospitals equipped and dedicated to Covid-19 patients.”
He further adds that “there is a lack of masks and protective equipment for the population” and hospitals are poorly staffed.
At Saint Camillus Hospital where Father Ouedraogo works, he explained that there about 401 permanent employees and 100 external employees who care for about 900 patients daily. The government supports the hospital by paying the salaries of 50 employees.
Only one laboratory
Fr. Ouedraogo pointed out that the only laboratory in the region is located in Bobo-Dioulasso, a “five-hour drive from the capital.” This means that suspicious cases throughout the country must wait “at least twelve hours for their results.”
Concerned by this situation, Fr. Ouedrago explained that the hospital, in agreement with the government, made available its biomolecular research center to carry out diagnostic tests.
“So far, we have performed more than 1500 swabs,” the Camillian priest said adding that the hospital has also produced hydroalcoholic solution (hand sanitizers) for both its needs and that of the population.
Fr. Ouedraogo further notes that an isolation room has been set up in the hospital to receive suspicious cases pending diagnostic confirmation. However, “there are only six beds in the resuscitation ward,” he laments.
Commenting on the Covid-19 crisis on the African continent, Fr. Ouedraogo said that the initial reaction of the Burkinabe population was of great fear which made them turn to God in prayer.
“Seeing the many deaths in Western countries, everyone wondered how Africa would react to such a catastrophe,” he said.
Turning his thoughts towards Burkina Faso, Fr. Ouedraogo said that the population was hard-hit by the restrictive measures imposed by the government. This is because “most people survive by selling something on the street, hoping to be able to put together a daily meal for the family.”