Alarmingly, more and more critical CoVID-19 patients in Iraq


In Iraq, the COVID-19 pandemic has reached alarming levels. The country is currently reporting nearly 4,000 new cases per day and about 500 deaths per week. More than 100,000 cases have been diagnosed in the past month. Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, has been the hardest hit, with nearly a third of all reported cases in the country.

Our teams have started working at Al-Kindy Hospital in Baghdad to support the response of the local authorities. The hospital accommodates critical COVID-19 patients: the ward has 52 beds, all of which are currently occupied. Given the large number of patients, we are now going to open a new COVID-19 unit in Al-Kindy.

A critical COVID-19 patient on the ventilator unit at Al-Kindy hospital. The department has 52 beds and is constantly full. © MSF, September 2020

“Every time of the day, we see more and more serious COVID-19 patients in Baghdad,” explains Dr. Pedro Serrano Guajardo, an intensive care specialist. “Many patients stay in the ward for 15 to 20 days for treatment, which means that new patients are sometimes on the waiting list for two, maybe three days, until they can get the respiratory treatment they need. By the time they get to bed. is released, the patients are in really bad shape. It is really distressing to see these people waiting for a bed. “

Waiting lists and lack of bed capacity are not the only problems in Baghdad. “Some people do not properly assess the seriousness of the situation and do not take preventive measures. They also wait too long to come to the hospital for treatment. We receive patients in acute breathlessness. It is very difficult to treat them. once they have reached that point, “Dr. Guajardo continues.

Iraqi health workers have also been badly affected, with nearly 15,000 cases since the outbreak started. This is in addition to the existing staff shortages in several hospitals in Baghdad, exacerbating the critical situation.

“We are trying to do our best to support the Iraqi health authorities’ efforts to tackle the virus in Baghdad, even though our capacity is limited. Even with the high number of patients we are seeing at the moment, we are not sure where we are on the curve of the epidemic. But what we see is very worrying, “said country coordinator Gwenola Francoi to her colleague.

“It’s very stressful to watch a patient almost die, knowing you don’t have an available oxygen device available for them,” says Dr. Guajardo, “Seeing them weaken from minute to minute is frustrating. Especially because I know. that if people had followed the measures to bring themselves to the hospital or earlier, the situation could have been completely different. “

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