Tigray head doctors describe worsening medical care catastrophe in emergency briefing

In an international zoom briefing Doctors Amanuel Haile and Kibrom Gebreselassie gave a detailed briefing on the deteriorating medical crisis in Tigray caused by the Ethiopian siege which impedes all aspects of health care. Ethiopian diaspora along with others are working to establish means of sending financial support as well as organize and carry out shipments to Tigray and to refugee centers in Sudan. Donations are encouraged to this link https://givebutter.com/xWtpbD

In an emergency international zoom conference today Drs.  Amanuel Haile, Tigray Health Bureau Director,and Kibrom Gebreselassie, CEO of Mekelle’s Ayder Hospital, the continuing catastrophic health care crisis in the Tigray region suffered under the Ethiopian siege was reported.

Less then fifty percent of health care facilities have any staffing at all. Even those that are open have no electricity or supplies. There are no antibiotics to treat infection, no surgical supplies, and even simple things such as bed sheets and soap are scarce. No electricity is present to run medical equipment except for occasional runs at the tertiary Ayder Hospital on a rare basis.

During the so called truce following the exit of occupying forces of Ethiopia from Eastern Tigray but not Western Tigray there has been a strangulating blockade of food, medicine, and fuel. Only 5% of necessary medical supplies were coming through the blockade. The Ethiopian military as well as the Ethiopian Ministry of Health under Lia Tadesse continue to limit what will be cleared for transport into Tigray from Ethiopia so that the people of Tigray would be “punished”.

Immunizations for children, oxytocin to help in childbirth, HIV testing, antibiotics, cancer drugs, tuberculosis drugs, anti-malarials, oxygen and surgical equipment are a few of the many banned items. Even while Ethiopia claimed to be assisting in medical supply the reality is that not a single item was donated by Ethiopia itself.  Only donated supplies from foreign countries in miniscule quantities are transported.

The medical crisis extends beyond just humans as there have been outbreaks of rabies in some cities from infected dogs spreading to humans. Feed for livestock is sparse and many animals have become infected with anthrax which has spread to humans as sick animals are desperately consumed.

While fifty thousand health care workers have attempted to remain on station to help the population they have gone unpaid essentially since  November 2020. There is no fuel or parts to allow transportation of patients to health care facilities. 

 

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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