By Sally Keeble
Graphic images of famine victims are included in a statement released by medical staff at Tigray’s main hospital setting out the impact on patients of the year-long Ethiopian blockade on the region.
With access to essential medicines down from 82 % to 17.5% and laboratory tests halved, staff at Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital warn that people are dying because the drugs and equipment that could save them are prevented from reaching Tigray. Staff were forced to use their bare hands to stop people bleeding to death when the hospital ran out of gloves and gauze.
They appeal to health professionals and the humanitarian community globally to end the suffering. “Whatever the cause of the war is, it cannot be right or ethical to deny patients lifesaving health care.”
Among the cases they cite are:
- Tsigi Tamene, who travelled to three hospitals while in advanced labour, walking 10 km to one of them. At Ayder her unborn child was found to be dead, with the spine detached from the baby’s head.
- Mulu Ebuy Weldeyesu, a dialysis patient, whose weight dropped to 53 kg due to the interruption of dialysis treatment at the hospital. When Mekelle residents fled the city during airstrikes, dialysis staff remained, using the same dialyser for four or five sessions, despite the reduced efficiency and risk of severe blood stream infections.
- Milat Hailesilassie, a nine months old girl with complicated severe acute malnutrition and unvaccinated. She was born in a forest while the family of six was hiding from soldiers. The parents used all their money just to get her to hospital, so can’t afford medication or food.
The hospital staff are being backed in their call for international support by the College of Health Sciences, at Mekelle University.
Among the equipment needed are basics including intravenous fluids, gloves, antibiotics, pain relief, and medication for women in labour and to treat mental illnesses. The dialysis unit are dialysers, blood lines, bicarbonate powder, acid concentrate jar and central venous catheters.
Oxygen supplies at Ayder are unreliable. Staff said patients were dying due to breakdowns in equipment that needed spare parts which were inaccessible due to the blockade. Electricity blackouts are common and prolonged, sometimes lasting for days at a time.
“We, the staff of the hospital and the college, haven’t lost hope despite the huge psychological burden that we have to deal with as a result of witnessing what is happening to our patients on a daily basis,” the statement says. Staff hadn’t been paid for seven months.
Staff are using time-expired drugs, and have tried to produce fluids locally to clean infected wounds. They are begging city residents for detergents, soap, bed sheets and other linen to keep the hospital running.
The neurosurgery team conducts operations based on clinical examinations only, without having the support of CT scan and/or MRI images. Neither has been functional for many months because of the lack of spare parts due to the blockade.
Children who need shunt surgeries can’t be treated and dying, as are people with treatable cancers and long-standing dialysis patients who are dying needlessly due to lack of supplies.
“We, therefore, humbly and respectfully request all health professionals in Ethiopia, Africa and the world to be the voice of our patients and stand with us in our effort to end the crisis. We also request the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, different UN and other international organizations, all the other local partners, NGOs as well as international partners to intervene and bring the misery of several months to an end,” the statement says.
Hi Martin, Nice to meet you , Enjoy this special time of year with those you love, and may the Lord bless you all with a happy and healthy New Year.
And for all Ethiopians , I wish a healthy and peaceful New Year , culmination of this 14-months long war .
We Amhara people are suffering under the belligerent group based at home and overseas putting our children and elders in endless hostility with all our neighbors on all sides, neighboring tribes having a land border with Amhara Region. All these thugs within us are working to let Eritrean soldiers get easy access to our resources and subjugate our country to Higdef top dogs. Amhara people should join their hands and replace with peace-loving and protective leaders and youth willing to restore fellowship and establish peace among neighboring ethnic members . War should not be taken as a means to climb up to the ladder of power or stay intact in a palace nor to accomplish a land theft .
During those time when fanos and ENDF were controlling our cities, Fanos were stealing our stores and shops and force us to say TPLF did that and this. Two of our neighbors were killed recently for disobeying to play the role of being raped and robbed by TPLF. We people from Wollo we have never had enmity with our neighbors from Tigray with whom we were living in harmony and tied a knot with each other . If you request the displaced Amhara and their families, they will assure you that they don’t need war with Tigray, whereas, elites living in abroad, political elites at home and wealthy amhara men hell bent on seeking to re-ignite the civil war and expand their regional territories and consolidate their power. They are intimidating and compelling us to give our children to this repugnant civil war benefiting only Eritrean top dogs.
Elites are sowing hostility and endless killings among two revered ethnic members for years to come in search of power . They simply sold their souls to the devil. We Amhara people from Wollo , we cannot die for some wealthy and belligerent few men residing in Gonder and hell-bent on expanding their territories and make western Tigray their farm land and ensure plantation of factories. Thank you for posting this message.