Doctors in Altamira and region alert to health system collapse

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Beds, respirators and medicines are insufficient to serve all the population of the largest municipality in Brazil, which includes indigenous and riverine people. There have been two deaths already and 180 confirmed cases of Covid-19
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In a letter released last Wednesday (13), doctors from Altamira and surroundings, in Pará state, alert to the imminent collapse of the health system of the largest municipality in Brazil. There have been two deaths already, 180 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and the only hospital that handles cases of medium and high complexity is almost full.

“The problem now is in our home and we are not prepared. We do not have respirators, nor professionals enough, there are no individual protection equipment for health workers, voluntary social distancing did not happen and the capacity of the medium and high complexity network was not enhanced to meet the demand”, says the letter signed by 68 doctors. [Read the letter]

The region had only nine ICU beds, already insufficient to serve the estimated population of 486 thousand people, which holds other eight cities and has 260 cases and 23 deaths. Altamira is also a reference of services for indigenous and traditional peoples of eleven Indigenous Lands and Conservation Units.

By an initiative of the medical team, five beds were removed from the pediatric ICU and readjusted to receive patients with Covid-19, totalling 14 beds. As a result, a vacuum was created in the already precarious intensive care structure for children. According to a report from the Pará Health Department released last night, 24 patients were admitted to the Regional Public Hospital of Transamazônica.

In the letter, doctors point out that the three respirators sent by the state government last week are inadequate for the serious patients and cannot be used.

The ten beds announced as a donation from Norte Energia, company that runs Belo Monte Dam, are expected to be delivered in June and the respirators will come to the ICU in July only, “when it will be too late”.

“It is worth mentioning that the company has not fulfilled many fundamental obligations, conditions for the installation and functioning of Belo Monte Dam”, states the letter. Yesterday, the Norges Bank announced the decision of excluding Eletrobrás from the world’s greatest sovereign wealth fund, acknowledging the human rights violations and social environmental impacts caused by the power plant.

Besides the beds, doctors reinforce that equipment, several medicines and a prepared professional team and quantitatively enough to assist people are necessary. They also warn that the early treatment is the key to reducing mortality of patients, it is essential to ensure the wide distribution of medications in the basic health network and provide laboratory tests and chest tomography more widely.

Last week, doctors released a video reinforcing the importance of social distancing and asking for the population to be home, to avoid the health system collapse.

The letter was sent to the Regional Council of Medicine of Pará, the Public Prosecutor's Office of Pará, the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office, the State Health Department, the Altamira Health Department, Norte Energia and PROSAÚDE

Isabel Harari
ISA
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