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TMUH team helps Eswatini combat COVID-19 outbreak

  • By Wu Liang-yi and Dennis Xie / Staff reporter, with staff writer

A medical team from Taipei Medical University Hospital (TMUH) has begun a one-month aid project in Eswatini, which has reported more than 100 cases of COVID-19, hospital superintendent Chen Ray-jade (陳瑞杰) said on Tuesday.

Since 2008, TMUH has been responsible for medical missions in Eswatini, the only African country that has official ties with Taiwan, Chen said.

Following a request by the Eswatini Ministry of Health, four TMUH doctors arrived at the nation’s Lubombo Referral Hospital on May 1, Chen said, adding that the hospital was established with the support of the Ministry of Health and Welfare and TMUH.

The team — infectious disease specialist Chen Li-yuan (陳立遠), pulmonologist Li Shu-liang (黎書亮), respiratory therapist Lee Hsin-yu (李芯妤) and nurse Lin Yu-Hsuan (林侑暄) — aims to enhance Eswatini’s critical care with clinical assistance and training programs, he said.

Daily video conferences have been held between TMUH and the hospital to discuss the latest preventive measures and treatments, he added.

Eswatini is not a large country, with a population of about 1 million, he said, adding that there is a wide rural-urban gap with regards to healthcare resources, and the nation lacks experience in dealing with an epidemic or pandemic.

Disinfection products, such as alcohol-based sanitizers, are scarce in the nation, he added.

As Eswatini has reported hospital-acquired COVID-19 infections, the most pressing matter for the team is to eradicate the possibility of further transmissions among healthcare personnel, as it could lead to large-scale community infections, he said.

Facilities and routes at the hospital should be redesigned to better meet disease-prevention requirements, while local medical teams would be trained to attend to severely ill patients safely, and to wear and take off a surgical gown correctly, he said.