Fever-hit Rio residents flock to military hospitals
31 Mar 2008 19:38:33 GMT
By Pedro Fonseca
RIO DE JANEIRO, March 31 (Reuters) – The Brazilian military opened three field hospitals on Monday in Rio de Janeiro to help prevent more deaths from a dengue fever epidemic that has overwhelmed public clinics.
The outbreak has killed 54 people since January and infected more than 43,500 in Rio de Janeiro state, according to official figures.
About 1,200 military doctors and staff will work in the hospitals, which have a total of 140 beds. They will stay open around the clock.
In addition, 500 more troops will be deployed in the streets to help eradicate the dengue mosquito.
Among those turning up at a field hospital on Monday was Jorge Luiz Carvalho Alves. He had taken his 6-year-old daughter to four public hospitals only to find long lines. Over the weekend, a private clinic diagnosed her with the potentially lethal hemorrhagic form of dengue.
Alves said he had to borrow money to pay for the private consultation but it did not include treatment so he brought her to the field hospital’s intensive care unit.
“Apparently she is in bad shape and will be hospitalized,” he said, tears in his eyes, outside the camouflaged tents of an air force field hospital in Barra da Tijuca neighborhood. “Many people, many children will die still if it’s left to public hospitals.”
Dengue is a viral disease spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and there is no vaccine or drug for it. Treatment primarily involves increased fluid intake, administered orally and intravenously.
It has various strains, including one that causes the hemorrhagic form. It tends to affect people who previously have contracted a weaker strain.
‘HERE IT’S WONDERFUL’
The waiting lists at military hospitals were short on the first day and triage efficient.
“In the hospital you wait and wait and people have no respect for you. Here it’s wonderful,” said Ana da Silva Henrique, a 29-year-old cleaning maid who took a bus for 90 minutes to get to a field hospital on Monday morning.
She was put on an intravenous drip an hour after coming. At a public hospital near where she lives, she had waited in line for four hours and been sent home with pains and fever after a quick consultation.
Authorities have deployed cars equipped with powerful insecticide sprays and were checking areas with pools of stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed.
Last week, Health Minister Jose Temporao blamed a poor disease prevention network and fragile public health system for the crisis.
In 2005, the military also set up field hospitals in Rio after a breakdown in the state public health system led to long lines at hospitals.
Authorities hope the outbreak will ease in the coming weeks with the arrival of cooler weather after a hot, wet summer.
Most of the affected areas are relatively far from tourist districts, but no one is completely safe from the mosquito-borne disease. (Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Xavier Briand)
Why doesnt this thing ever happen here? That’s a rhetorical question, of course. One thing is for certain, we will pay for it one way or another-either by letting anyone with diseases come into this country, ot by giving aid, money and drugs to countries that dislike us.
We wont care, though. It is what we do. Why does everyone want to come here if they hate us so much? For that matter, why do they hate us? Personally, I dont think the hatred is as bad as people would have us believe. The liberal media in Germany is just as leftist as the media here, so it stands to reason we will hear only what they want us to hear. But despite all the bad press, the snubbed invitations, opposition in the UN, and the Diplomatic cooling, America will always be there to bail someone out. Europe twice in the last century, along with Korea and VietNam. Phuket in 2005 was a classic example of America’s freindship. GWB dispatched a Navy Task Force, along with the Japanese, Austrailians and New Zealanders to Thailand in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami. Providing power from two nuclear reactors on the Carrier, the group of nations put up field hospitals, shelters, and cooked food around the clock as part of the relief effort. Elements of these nations were on site before the Useless Nations even convened.
So when I read stories about things like this, all I can think of is how can a country in the 21st century not be prepared or educated enough to take care of something like public health? These things dont happen here becuase in a free and democratic society like ours, we vote and pay taxes for services like public health. Its not perfect, but then we dont have outbreaks of Dengue and other diseases like some of these countries do. Yet we are the bad guys. Brazil, where this outbreak is occuring, is very cozy with Chavez and is very critical of the US. Yet, they have one of the highest incidences of AIDs in the world, poverty that will make you cry, and infectious disease outbreaks. But true to form, if things get out of hand, America will be there to help and asking nothing in return. Its what we do…