The number of patients arriving at the outpatient department of the "hospital on the hill", built by MSF in the middle of the camps in 2017, increased by 50 per cent during 2022. This situation goes hand in hand with several health centres closing in the area in the past year due to a lack of funding and a rampant scabies epidemic. In this hospital as well as in our mother-and-child hospital in Goyalmara, the number of paediatric admissions saw an unusually high rise from January to June 2023 compared to the same period last year. In July, while the annual peak season of medical needs is only just starting, our paediatric hospital admissions is at capacity.
How will patients cope?
MSF is not directly affected by the crisis in funding from international donors, but the capacity of our services to absorb the ever-increasing demand for care is reaching its own limits. The growing number of consultations inevitably puts pressure on our human resources, hospital bed management and drug supplies.
To cope, our teams have had to adopt two new approaches, each with its own limitations. In the case of certain illnesses, such as non-communicable diseases (NCD) and scabies, the needs are such that our facilities cannot take on all the patients who come to our clinics. Over the past year, our teams have been obliged to stricter triage according to the level of severity of illnesses or the geographical origin of patients, as camps are divided by sector. Our teams have to refer less urgent cases to other health centres, which often themselves show limitations in the treatment for NCD or scabies due to lack of available medication.
In the case of paediatrics, and in anticipation of the peak season of medical needs, new temporary beds have been installed to accommodate more patients in the Goyalmara paediatrics wards. Since last year, our teams have also had to admit more and more paediatric patients to our "hospital on the hill", which does not normally cater for these types of patients. This requires additional beds in the hospital and puts pressure on the hospital's inpatient departments for other patients. While it cannot be a satisfactory solution in the long term, MSF teams fear that even in the short term, with the peak season starting, the increase in beds will not be sufficient to cover all the needs.