Medical support and training for Istmina and the surrounding area (Mission UBUNTU)
The COVID pandemic did not stop at Colombia either and the country is struggling with steadily increasing numbers of infections (Statistikto Kolumbien and to Chocó). In the Chocó region, where CASA HOGAR operates, only one case was documented as of April 11, 2020 – but unfortunately that does not mean anything: tests have to reach Quibdó, the capital of Chocó, via inadequate roads and flown from there to Bogotá . However, there is no suitable transport material for the samples, regular flights are currently canceled … It is unclear how infections from Istmina and even more remote areas of the Chocó are to be included in the official figures.
At the same time, the health system in Chocó is shocking. In the entire Chocó region with 500,000 inhabitants, there is a single hospital with intensive care beds in Quibdó – but that is already busy. However, given the poor infrastructure, the majority of the population would have little chance of making it from the remote regions over water and land to Quibdó in an emergency. Istmina – the second largest city in Chocó – is about two hours’ drive from Quibdó via bad roads and although it has a hospital – it only offers basic care and has neither isolation options nor intensive care. An outbreak of the virus would have fatal consequences here – and not only for the city of Istmina with its 20,000 inhabitants, but for all southern areas of the Chocó and the remote areas of the San Juan and Baudó rivers: a total of around 130,000 people.
Therefore, all local actors in Istmina – diocese, mayor, chamber of commerce, representatives of local traders and other committed people – try to increase the health care in Istmina as best as possible. We all pull together to prevent the worst. As a first step, an empty building is being prepared in order to isolate and treat (suspected) cases of COVID-19 there. But not only is there a lack of protective material for medical staff, but also basic medical equipment such as thermometers, heart rate monitors, blood pressure monitors are outdated and defibrillators or an oxygen device for transporting patients are completely missing. In particular, however, the medical staff do not see themselves as prepared for the virus. Only one person from all over Istmina was able to attend an information event in Quibdó and came back completely disillusioned in view of the situation in Istmina.
Therefore, CASA HOGAR Germany, together with the local actors of Istminas under the leadership of Bishop Mario de Jesús of the diocese of Istmina-Tadó and Prof. Dr. Laureano Quintero – medical expert in disaster situations as well as medical director at the University Clinic del Valle in Cali, where Theodor Rüber got to know him personally as a student – launched a collaboration that supports the people in Chocó in this situation from close up and from afar: On the one hand, the population of Istmina is being helped to equip those devices for which there are currently no resources despite state funds. On the other hand, Dr. Quintero sent a team of five medically trained people to Istmina. The medical staff in Istmina is to be accompanied and trained in intensive care medicine with regard to dealing with COVID-19 both by the dispatched persons and virtually by intensive care physicians from Cali. At the same time, the measure is deliberately geared towards sustainability: the medical staff in Istmina are not only given further medical training through this training, but a direct connection to renowned clinics in Cali is also established. This contact should remain in contact even after COVID-19, so that Istmina can benefit from the medical expertise in Cali in the event of medical questions and can also offer the 130,000 inhabitants of the catchment area better health care in the long term!
This humanitarian mission got its name UBUNTU from Professor Quintero. He writes: “Ubuntu is a South African philosophy that is centered on loyalty and solidarity. Your name is derived from the languages Zulu and Xhosa and can be translated as ‘humanity for others’ or ‘I am because we are.’ ”In this sense, we hope, together with the people in Istmina and the surrounding area, this global crisis to survive, and thank you for all the support that gives the Chocoanos hope in these times.
Location: Istmina und ländlicher Teil des Chocó
Project partner: Diözese Istmina-Tadó (Istmina) and Salamandra Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento en Urgencias y Emergencias (Cali)
Costs: a round 50.000 € (possibly with extension and then a round. 4.000€/Monat for CASA HOGAR)
Project completion: 1 month (but with the option to extend)
Donates to CASA HOGAR help that it does not have to stop with one-off actions and that we can all weather the crisis together.
Infos about COVID at Colombia (spanisch)
Infos about COVID at Chocó (spanisch)