WHO Regional Office for Africa

Ben Zaid Hospital welcomed on Monday, October 11, an emergency medical team from the UK MED, through the Secretariat Emergency Medical Team (EMT) of the World Health Organization (WHO). The deployment of this team follows a request from the Ministry of Health to support the country's efforts to manage severe cases of COVID-19 and to help strengthen the skills of local national teams. 

The team, led by an intensive and critical care physician, with three intensive care and infection prevention and control (IPC) paramedics, are in the country until early November ; to work in Nouakchott, Kaédi, and Kiffa. 

The UK Med team first visited, together with Dr. Kebe, Director of Hospital Medicine, and the WHO Mauritania Emergency team, the critical care department of Ben Zaid Hospital, which is the referral facility for severe COVID-19 patients.

The delegation met with the hospital’s and the ward’s medical teams as well as the WHO international medical specialists currently deployed and discussed the planning and coordination of the medical response to the current needs and challenges.

After having been hit by a 3rd wave whose peak was reached in August, Mauritania has been experiencing a persistence of intra-hospital deaths more important than during the previous waves and which poses challenges to the structures of management of critical cases. It is in this context that the Ministry of Health requested the support of WHO EMT to support the response in terms of quality of care and prevention and control of infections in hospitals.

As part of the national response plan for COVID-19 adopted in April 2020, the Ministry of Health called on WHO to strengthen qualified human resources in critical care. Since October 2020, Mauritania has hosted French and Spanish medical teams deployed by WHO.

The Director of Hospital Medicine insisted that the Ministry of health priority is to strengthen medical and especially paramedical capacities, in view of the challenges of the response. 

"Our intention is that this training from the UK MED will allow us to set up training teams in the departments, when we leave," said Dr Emery, head of the UK MED team.

For his part, Dr. Patrick Kaboré, WHO Representative in Mauritania, emphasized that "the arrival of this team is an opportunity to consolidate efforts to support the provision of emergency care in a perspective of national capacity building and building a resilient health system in the context of the response to COVID-19. He added that "Thanks to the support of the United Kingdom, Canada and the World Bank, among others, WHO is accompanying the government in critical care and hospital and community hygiene”.

Accompanied by the Directorates of Hospital Medicine and Public Hygiene and their medical teams, the team was then deployed to Kaédi. The delegation visited the regional hospital as well as two health centers and a health post. The team met with the medical and paramedical teams as well as the Ministry's services and analyzed the situation in terms of infection prevention and control and management. Training modules were also organized in these two areas for about 50 medical and paramedical staff from Rosso, Kaédi, Aleg, Bogué and Sélibaby.

The team visited the regional hospital in Kiffa as well as health centers and health posts. They conducted trainings in infection prevention and control and patient management for staff in Néma, Kiffa, Tidjikdja and Aioun.

The team returned to Ben Zaid Hospital this week to continue its work. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.

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