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China races to bolster health system as COVID surge sparks global concern

China races to bolster health system as COVID surge sparks global concern

BERNARD ORR and XINGHUI KOK CITIES across China scrambled to install hospital beds and build fever screening clinics as authorities reported five more deaths and international concern grew about Beijing's surprise decision to let the virus run free. China this month began dismantling its stringent "zero-COVID" regime of lockdowns and testing after protests against curbs that had kept the virus at bay for three years but at a big cost to society and the world's second-largest economy. Now, as the virus sweeps through a country of 1.4 billion people who lack natural immunity having been shielded for so long, there is growing…
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Drones to digital: Asia, Africa find ways to plug COVID health gaps

Drones to digital: Asia, Africa find ways to plug COVID health gaps

EMMA BATHA AS COVID-19 strains Pakistan's health system, tens of thousands of women doctors are sitting at home, their talents squandered in a country where millions have no access to medical care. Many families encourage their daughters to study medicine, not for a career, but to bolster their marriage prospects. The phenomenon even has a name - "doctor-brides". Appalled by the waste of expertise, entrepreneur Sara Saeed Khurram has set up a telemedicine platform enabling female medics to provide e-consultations from their homes to patients in rural communities. "Half the population in Pakistan – 100 million people – never get…
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Small things can save lives: coping with COVID-19 in resource-scarce hospitals

Small things can save lives: coping with COVID-19 in resource-scarce hospitals

EVERYWHERE, patients have died from COVID-19 when patient numbers exceeded the capacity of the health system. The number of doctors, nurses and oxygen points just wasn’t enough. GILLES VAN CUTSEM, Honorary Research Associate, Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research, University of Cape Town People died from a lack of oxygen because no one noticed that their oxygen mask wasn’t well-positioned or that their oxygen saturation was dropping. They died of dehydration or kidney failure because they didn’t receive enough water. They died because there wasn’t enough staff, or because new staff added in an emergency were inexperienced and poorly…
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Meet Nigerian COVID-19 tracers

Meet Nigerian COVID-19 tracers

LIBBY GEORGE, PAUL GEORGE, PAUL CARSTEN and ALEXIS AKWAGYIRAM EARLY one evening, Folasade Fadare and her team of four disease hunters piled into a van and headed for Okegun, a rural community down a narrow potholed road in eastern Lagos state. A coronavirus patient had visited the area, and it was their task to find anyone exposed, isolate them and trace their contacts. The team quickly realised the job was too big: more than 100 people needed to be interviewed and tested. Ultimately, only the two sickest people, feverish and gasping for air, were sent to hospital to be isolated…
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Where COVID-19 has left Nigeria’s health system

Where COVID-19 has left Nigeria’s health system

OVER nine months into COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria, there are concerns about how well the country has managed the pandemic. Adejuwon Soyinka, from The Conversation Africa, asked Dr Doyin Odubanjo, executive secretary of the Nigerian Academy of Science, to assess the situation and how it might affect the country’s ability to manage other equally important diseases. DOYIN ODUBANJO, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Academy of Science Where does Nigeria stand as far as COVID-19 is concerned at the moment? I would say we are in the wilderness. Basically we don’t know where we are. I think the only thing that everybody agrees…
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Why Nigeria’s weak health system affects women and girls the most

Why Nigeria’s weak health system affects women and girls the most

NIGERIA’S healthcare service delivery is very poor. It ranks among the worst globally in terms of access and quality. In 2018 it was ranked 142 out of 195 countries by the general medical journal, the Lancet. The World Bank ranks it 42 on a scale of 100 in its universal coverage index, which indicates the availability of essential healthcare services in the participating countries. AKANNI IBUKUN AKINYEMI, Professor, Obafemi Awolowo University Some of the reasons for the sub-optimal healthcare delivery are linked to the country’s rapid population growth from 122.2 million in 2000 to 211.4 million. Other factors include poor…
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Tunisian hospitals buckle under COVID crisis

Tunisian hospitals buckle under COVID crisis

THE medics at Abderahmen Mami hospital in Tunis are part of a health system pushed to its limit, with intensive care wards filled by a new surge in COVID-19 cases that has outstripped a vaccination campaign limited by short supplies. Last week one of the government's scientific advisers warned the health system was on the brink of collapse, with between 90-110 new patients in need of hospitalisation each day. Tunisia has only about 500 intensive care beds. Dressed in a full protective suit, with only the band of her face between her mask and hair cap exposed, nurse Soumaya Ben…
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