ERITREA : Striving Towards Enhanced Health Provisions


by Habtom Tesfamicael | 

As you track the route from Asmara to Debub region, you find yourself accompanied with a fascinating landscape. A number of cereals, livestock, escarpments, plain and other items that are almost what the earth contains on is surface, a variety. While entering the capital of Debub region, Mendefera, one finds the enormous and eye catching building that is the Mendefera Referral Hospital.

This referral hospital has started to give service since 2006. From this time frame, it is playing a key role in providing health services to the region’s large number of population scattered in a vast area. This hospital is established in the locality to serve as a referral hospital, to help patients from being referred to Asmara, thereby avoiding transportation and other social cost problems. It was instituted to serve as a referral hospital for dozens up to a million of population. Additionally, the hospital includes the National Fistula Center of Eritrea.

As documents of the hospital indicate, the health services are extensive to the people of the region. Some of the services the hospital provides are the outgoing patients department (OPD), pediatrics and internal illness room, emergency service and other. The pediatrics center itself is divided into three branches; Acute inpatient care, premature babies care, as well as general children’s care.

The hospital also comprises an operating room headed by a surgical doctor and his associates. The maternity department, on its part, deals with labor and female related problems. It also provides surgical and other services, when necessary.

Ophthalmic department is one of the busiest departments where large share of patients are served. It is operated by one doctor and his associate nurses. In this department different surgical and other treatments are conducted. Mendefera referral hospital has other subordinate departments than the mentioned above. Physiotherapy is one of which that deals with numerous facilities that aid to improve movement and muscle problems. The X-ray department is also active for various diagnostic assistance.

The hospital also equipped with particular services such as TB diagnostic department, diabetes and blood pressure checkup departments, psychiatric department, dental department, counseling and HIV diagnostic department. The hospital has a store room, full of different facilities and a pharmacy which facilitates medication service provision.

Doctor Amanuel Mihretab, medical director of Mendefera referral hospital, while addressing about the commonly seen diseases in the region and the efforts they exert in curbing them out stated that due to the large number of population scattered on a vast area, following a diverse lifestyles, it is natural for a number of diseases to be witnessed in the region. Though, the diseases are controllable, Dr. Amanuel indicated that they are trying to minimize the illness rate by cooperating with the Ministry of Agriculture and timely conducting awareness raising campaigns. The Dr. recommended that people need to boil the milks they drink in order to eliminate bacteria that carry diseases and hence avoiding milk caused illnesses. As a result of previous efforts on this issue, milk caused diseases are diminishing patterns, the Dr. added.

Besides, new TB and HIV infections and cases are decreasing. As the statistics of the hospital indicate, new HIV infection has fallen by 0.5%. Similar records to the other regions of the country, since antiretroviral drugs are dispensed freely in this region. This led into less HIV death rates. TB and HIV are treated inseparably, because they have a contagious nature and require advanced and paramount care. Considering the intensity of these diseases, the hospital carries out a primary cautious treatment.

Doctor Amanuel further noted that if a person is diagnosed with TB, checking the person for HIV virus is the procedure they follow. And if a person is diagnosed with HIV, counter check for TB continues. The hospital work under devotedly for identifying TB carriers and carry out the appropriate general checkups post identification. At this moment the hospital is also carrying out TB diagnosis on diabetic patients. Identifying the illness early helps to cure them quickly and curbing the disease out quickly before it spreads and infects others.

Malaria is one of the communicable diseases in the region. The region’s land scape makes it convenient for mosquito to reproduce. This convenience helps diseases such as Malaria to be common health problems in the region. With the increasing mobility of people so does the expansion rate of malaria extend.

Malaria caused disability and death has been reduced to the lowest level in the previous year. Out of the 320 came with malaria infection, only 2 have died. So it is verified that this referral hospital has achieved significant success in curbing communicable diseases by which the results are speaking for themselves.

Generally there are five hospitals, one referral hospital, nine health centers, and fifty one clinics throughout the Debub region. Mendefera referral hospital holds 200 patient beds.

Noting to the number of utilizers of the hospital in 2016 alone, up to 212 children received treatment, compared to the previous year this amount has reduced by 50%.

If we see to the child mortality rate of the children who came for medical treatment, only 39 has died and the remaining were cured. The child mortality rate under the age of 14 is 2% at the regional level. In relation to this, as part of the efforts to secure maternal health care, of the 1793 mothers who came to give birth only 5 have died and the remaining were sent to their home after receiving proper medical treatment, except those encountered with child bearing problems and those who gave birth to below standard weight.

In the physiotherapy center, 132 persons received the required treatment as in-patient and out patients. If we see the different kinds of operations conducted, about 1,642 operations have been conducted. In order to use for these operations and other emergency needs, blood of 293 persons was collected and used. In the last year alone up to 25,000 citizens’ above the age of 14 received medical treatment as out patients, of these the patients who were with acute health problems were made to receive treatment permanently in the hospital.

Some of the acute health problems that appear in the region directly affect this referral hospital. While explaining the most commonly seen health problems and the shortcomings of the hospital Doctor Amanuel said “the government has provided a hospital with competent health professionals and enough facilities to solve the people’s health problems.

Despite, these efforts the people are still suffering from traditional healing methods. Of such victims, those who get quick medical treatment were spared from death. So the people should utilize the health center located in their locality”. He also forwarded his caution against the traditional heeling methods. Doctor Amanuel adds that, due to the lack of skin and bone specialists at the hospital, patients who seek such treatment should go to Asmara. On top of that, considering the facilities and competent human power in the hospital, it’s serving as a center of practical education, nursing and other health service provisions.