BURKINA FASO: Hospital patients evacuated post-flooding
Burkina Faso's main hospital, Yalgado Ouédraogo hospital, has shut down key wards and evacuated patients after 1 September flooding
OUAGADOUGOU, 2 September 2009 (IRIN) - Flooding has affected an estimated 150,000 people in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, claimed at least five lives and partially shut down the country’s main hospital, according to government and hospital officials.
Dozens of patients were evacuated from the Yalgado Ouédraogo hospital’s paediatric, infectious disease, respiratory and kidney disease departments. Emergency care services have been relocated to other health centres.
“We were surprised as everyone else [by the storm],” said Lansandé Bagagné, a doctor at the hospital. “We will try to see now what to do to save all [the equipment] that can be saved and we will see for the rest. We have evacuated patients from wards that were flooded.” Hospital staff are researching which other health centres have surgical capacities to take on more patients, the doctor added.
Some patients’ families are not waiting for further evacuation orders. “We are taking him [father] home to wait to see what will happen,” said Adama Coulibaly who told IRIN her father was a renal patient. “We do not know if the building will hold up to protect the patients here. The situation can only get worse,” she said.
Doctors are also agreeing to discharge patients early, the hospital’s communication officer, Sanou Souro, told IRIN. “We have to make do until the situation improves.” She said hospital officials’ priority is to first disinfect the hospital, and then they will finalize the count of patient evacuees.
Schools and churches at 193 sites across Ouagadougou are sheltering 110,000 flood victims, based on a preliminary government count. The actual number of people needing shelter may be 20,000 more because of those who have “refused” to join public shelters, according to the Prime Minister Tertius Zongo. An additional estimated 20,000 have relocated to live with family and neighbours.
“Houses continue to crumble,” said the Minister of Social Welfare, Pascaline Tamini, at noon on national radio. “Measures [we have] taken are [creating] shelter, doing everything necessary to ensure that a level of sanitation, health services and food are in place by this evening.”
In a visit to Yalgado Ouédraogo hospital on 1 September, the prime minister said the country had not seen a storm of similar magnitude since 1919. The country’s head of meteorological services, Didier Ouédraogo, told IRIN that though weather service staff knew of the storm’s approach, “the quantity and intensity was not foreseen.”
The country has on average 1,200mm of rainfall annually. Within only hours on 1 September, the city was deluged with 300mm, said Ouédraogo.
President Blaise Compaoré has mentioned the possibility of launching an international appeal for disaster relief upon his return to Ouagadougou on the afternoon of 2 September, saying the country faced “an exceptional situation.”