Abkhaz healthcare system may be “smothered” after opening border with Russia, doctors say
However, as it turns out, the authorities have no desire to listen to doctors, and the prime minister even advised that the “alarmists” resign.
Opening the border is a surprise for doctors
The decision to open the border between Russia and Abkhazia actually caught the republic by surprise. The border was opened to tourists on August 1 without any restrictions. In the first three days alone, more than 30,000 tourists came to Abkhazia.
Although before that, the coronavirus coordination headquarters discussed the idea of opening the border in several stages, requiring people to provide a certificate or “covid passport” before crossing the border.
Locals expressed their concerns about opening the country to Russian tourists at a meeting at the Abkhaz ministry of health, after the border had already been opened. In addition to members of the operational headquarters, it was attended by the chief doctors of local hospitals.
“We had an outbreak even before opening the border and the Gudauta hospital is starting to fill up. Every day we identify about 8-10 patients, and at this stage, we already know that it will be extremely difficult to cope with such a large influx of patients.
And if we add those numbers the people are coming into the country, the healthcare system will be smothered and will not be able to provide assistance to either our citizens or anyone else,” said Deputy Minister of Health Alkhas Konjaria.
One of the reasons for these concerns is the lack of medical personnel.
There is a limited number of resuscitators, infectious disease specialists and even therapists in the republic. In the event of a massive outbreak, there is simply no one to treat the sick.
“It came as a surprise to us that the border was opened all at once, not in stages, and that today, anyone who wishes can simply cross over,” Konjaria said.
Prime Minister Alexander Ankvab, who gave the order to open the border with Russia without any restrictions, reacted very harshly to the fears from medical staff:
“The objective difficulties of staffing some areas of the healthcare system and fully preparing to confront the pandemic are far from sensational news. The healthcare system in general is far from where it should be.
And if this was a grand discovery for some chief doctors, then there can be only one conclusion: they are bad leaders who do not understand where they work and what their job entails.”
Ankvab is surprised that these concerns were not voiced during the time when they were preparing to the open the border.
Ankvab says the heads of the medical sector want to protect themselves by issuing these “statements of panic” in case there are complications in the epidemiological situation.
“All that remains is to recommend that the officials of the republic’s health care system who are panicking should immediately resign. Relieve yourself of responsibility today, not later.
The country needs leaders who are able to make quick, professional decisions in unusual situations, and not those who spread provocative statements, ready to flee any time the situation gets complicated,” the prime minister said.
As of August 4, there are 107 total reported coronavirus cases in Abkhazia. Of these, 37 have recovered and three patients have died. More than 60 people have fallen ill in the past ten days.
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