Field hospital opened in Bolivian region amid spike in dengue cases

Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Feb 23 (EFE).- A field hospital began operating Thursday in Bolivia’s eastern region of Santa Cruz region, where an increase in dengue cases has pushed existing medical centers there to near capacity.

That mobile medical unit comprises different tents set up in a sports field in Santa Cruz city’s heavily populated Plan 3000 neighborhood and has a 30-bed capacity, Dr. Jose Antonio Llerena, a physician with the Bolivian Health Ministry’s Safci-Mi Salud Program, told Efe.

“Medical care will be provided at (that) outpatient clinic from 8 am to 6 pm, but the rest of the doctors will be conducting a sweep of the area, meaning they’ll go house by house identifying patients, in keeping with state policy,” Llerena said.

That work will be carried out by some 90 physicians who make up the Safci-Mi Salud Program’s Emergencies, Contingencies and Disasters team, he added.

The field hospital will be open to all patients, who need only show their identification card to receive care and any medication they require, Llerena said.

Santa Cruz department accounts for the majority of dengue cases nationwide (7,028), followed by the Amazon region of Beni with 1,056 cases. That mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus also is present in five other Bolivian departments.

The sudden increase in dengue cases in Santa Cruz has caused concern among health authorities, who said Wednesday that the number of daily cases has risen from 22 at the start of the year to 285 in the last week.

Santa Cruz authorities on Thursday expanded the emergency room at San Juan de Dios hospital, one of the leading medical facilities in the city, to attend to seriously ill patients with dengue fever or other pathologies.

The Santa Cruz department’s health and human development secretary, Edil Toledo, said 17 new intensive care and intensive therapy spaces have been set up at that hospital, bringing the total to 50.

He also confirmed that 338 additional health professionals will be hired to attend to the health emergency in that department.

Bolivia has registered 9,328 dengue cases and 29 dengue-related deaths to date, according to the national Health Ministry’s latest report.

Authorities also are urging the population to do their part to stop the disease by keeping their homes clean and free of standing water, which is a breeding ground for the Aedes aegypti moquitoes that carry dengue.

Dengue causes high fever, headaches, vomiting and rashes, while its more serious form – hemorrhagic dengue – can be fatal. EFE


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