The Netherlands sends medical devices, including oxygen, to Suriname within a few days. According to demissionary minister De Jonge, this happens because of the “harrowing corona situation” in the country. There is also an accelerated medical staff leaving the Netherlands.
Because of the high number of coronapatics in the hospitals, the Surinamese government scaled to the highest level of risk, code purple. Among other things, hospitals are suffering from a lack of oxygen for covid patients, and the government said that it can no longer guarantee public health.
President Santokhi said at a press conference that additional oxygen may be supplied from neighbouring French Guiana on Sunday. He also reported that coming week from the Netherlands aid supplies come.
The tools include oxygen containers, writes Minister De Jonge. These containers are brought to Suriname as soon as possible with the help of the defense. According to De Jonge, help from the Netherlands is obvious “given our special relationship with Suriname and the close relationship between our societies”.
In Suriname there is also a shortage of vaccines. At the press conference, Santokhi said that the delivery of 500,000 to 750,000 doses from the Netherlands, promised by the end of June, will partly be available earlier. But De Jonge holds on to deliveries from June 21 in a Chamber letter.
According to De Jonge, the next few days will be mapped which tools are needed and which staff can be sent to Suriname. Former RIVM boss Marc Sprenger will coordinate this, in collaboration with the Dutch Association of Hospitals (NVZ) and the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU).
“Suriname is drowning”
The situation in Suriname has been worrying for a long time. Earlier this month, pediatricians sounded the alarm about the stalled care for newborns. But since then it has only gotten worse, says Denise Telgt, infectiologist at the Radboud UMC Nijmegen in the CCEit Radio 1 Journal. She was there for the Department of VWS to gauge the state of health care in the South American country.
She was in Suriname a few weeks ago. “We ended up in a kind of disaster scenario where a new wave emerged, a lot of people were positive. We had 60 positive cases a day, which was already extremely many and now we are at 300 a day. I get apps every day from colleagues there who have to make choices. Three days ago, they said, “There‘s still oxygen until Saturday, and the boat doesn’t come until next Friday.” People are still motivated to work, but there‘s a great staff shortage, a medicine shortage and some kind of fatigue. It’s awful to see. It has tremendous impact if you have eight deaths in a week while you normally have in a month.”
The question is, how did it get to this far? According to Telgt, this is due to a combination of factors. “Healthcare in Suriname was already in very poor condition for corona. There were plans to boost that up, but there‘s got to be money for that. And then Corona got over it, so Suriname never had time to fix it.”
Emergency aid is therefore very welcome. “Suriname is really drowning. We will provide crisis assistance and material. And vaccines, too. You do hear stories about people who don’t want to get vaccinated. Well, they‘re already in line for the vaccination at 6:00 a.m. But if there are no vaccines, they can’t get them either.”