Red Cross sets up a cholera treatment centre in Mozambique

Canadian Red Cross
Image: Canadian Red Cross

The Finnish Red Cross’s and the Canadian Red Cross’s joint cholera treatment unit admitted its first patients on Thursday. The unit is part of a field hospital that will operate in connection with the local Hospital Rural De Nhamatanda.

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The risk of a major cholera epidemic is currently extremely high in Mozambique in the area ravaged by Cyclone Idai. In unhygienic conditions, the disease spreads easily, transmitted via contaminated drinking water and food.  In addition to ensuring access to clean drinking water, important measures for preventing an epidemic include providing rapid and effective treatment to those infected.

The cholera treatment unit can treat up to 100 patients at a time

The cholera treatment unit of the Finnish Red Cross’s and the Canadian Red Cross’s joint field hospital specialises in treating people infected with cholera. It is located in the vicinity of a local hospital in Nhamatanda, approximately 100 kilometres west of Beira.

The cholera treatment unit opened with 35 beds and will later be expanded to 67 beds. If necessary, the unit can be further expanded to one hundred beds.

The time taken from the arrival of the field hospital equipment and supplies in the country to getting the unit up and running was approximately four days.

“Those four days included preparing the land area, setting up and supplying the cholera treatment unit, building sanitation facilities and recruiting and training local staff,” says Finnish Red Cross aid worker and nurse Virpi Teinilä.

The field hospital currently employs a total of 37 international Red Cross workers, of which 13 are aid workers, doctors, nurses, technical experts and administrative staff sent by the Finnish Red Cross.

Local hospital kept operational with the support of the Finnish Red Cross

Cyclone Idai caused considerable damage to Hospital Rural De Nhamatanda, leaving only parts of it operational. In addition to the cholera treatment unit, the Finnish Red Cross is also supporting the operations of the hospital’s other units. 

Finnish Red Cross aid workers are supporting local care staff in their treatment and care work. Furthermore, supplies have been sent over to support the operating room and maternity unit and to improve access to electricity and water.

“Integrating the field hospital to an existing hospital ensures the best possible response to the increased need for aid. Doing so also facilitates the hospital’s recovery towards resuming normal operation,” says Tiina Saarikoski, head of international disaster aid at the Finnish Red Cross.

The Finnish Red Cross’s work is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland granted the Finnish Red Cross EUR 200,000 of additional funding for aid work. The funds will be used to support the Finnish Red Cross’s disaster aid units, such as the field hospital. So far, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has granted the Finnish Red Cross a total of EUR 500,000 for the Idai operation.

The Finnish Red Cross’s branches have started an emergency collection for stopping the cholera epidemic.