June 12, 2020---To respond to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has started treating patients in critical condition who need oxygen support in a 20-bed coronavirus ward attached to the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH).
MSF has intervened to help prevent Tegucigalpa's hospitals from becoming overcrowded. Patients are transferred to MSF's ward from local hospitals and from two other coronavirus wards set up in the university, where mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients are being tested, isolated, cared for, and treated for non-COVID-19 illnesses by staff from the Ministry of Health and the National Emergency Department.
"We have worked in coordination with the university and the local health and emergency authorities to support the response to the COVID-19 emergency in Tegucigalpa," said Jose Antonio Silva, MSF project coordinator. "We aim to provide patients with quality medical care and [help] ease the burden on the health system."
As of June 11, a total of 7,360 COVID-19 cases have been officially confirmed in Honduras, 23 percent of those cases are in the Francisco Morazan department, where Tegucigalpa is located.
The MSF team consists of medical, nursing, hygiene, and logistical staff, who have the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to do their job safely and avoid the risk of infection. They are also providing patients and their families with psychological support over the telephone.
MSF will continue its regular activities in Tegucigalpa, providing medical and psychological care to survivors of violence, and has set up a telephone helpline to provide mental health support to these patients.
"While we are putting a lot of effort into caring for COVID-19 patients and easing pressure on the health system, we have not stopped our regular activities," said Silva. "We will continue providing comprehensive medical care to survivors of sexual violence and victims of other types of violence."
MSF has provided humanitarian medical support in Honduras for 45 years. MSF first worked in Honduras in 1974, responding to Hurricane Fifi. Since then, MSF has provided independent, neutral, and impartial medical care to people in response to various other crises that have affected the country.