On any day, the waiting hall of Black Lion Hospital is not a sight for the faint-hearted.

On any day, the waiting hall of Black Lion Hospital is not a sight for the faint-hearted. Patients seeking treatment find themselves marooned on multi-seat waiting chairs in dangerously close quarters and unsanitary conditions.

But even this has changed, with patients wary of visiting health centres and public health professionals themselves trying to devise ways of limiting the number of patients that come to hospitals.

Black Lion, for instance, used to have an average of 20,000 patients a day seeking its services before the outbreak of COVID-19. By April, there was only a fifth as many, with people attempting to avoid contracting the virus and decreasing their mobility throughout Addis Abeba.

It was this fear of slacking health services that induced the establishment of the Essential Services Continuity Section under the COVID-19 inter-ministerial task force being led by the Prime Minister. Its mandate included monitoring health institutions for non-COVID-19 healthcare.

Among the practices being expanded is telehealth, where patients are advised by their doctors over the phone under guidelines provided by the Health Ministry. But with doctor’s visits now being spaced out widely, those considered high-risk have been impacted detrimentally. Some patients have died before their next appointment.

It is still not clear if such non-COVID-19 related deaths have been on the rise given poor record-keeping in the country. At the moment, assessments done until the end of May show no significant changes in death rates in Addis Abeba. The tally for June and July are still to come.

You can read the full story    here    

PUBLISHED ON Aug 08,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1058]

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