10 December 2020 | Informations
The pandemic has hit our teams in the field hard and considerably complicated the care of the most vulnerable, in particular people living with HIV/AIDS. The testimony of Ibrahima Diallo, a doctor and coordinator of outpatient treatment services at the Ignace Deen hospital in Conakry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to disruptions in health services in Africa. What was the service most affected by the pandemic in your country? In our centre, since March, 430 patients have been reported as “lost from sight”. Patients are facing increased obstacles in coming to seek treatment. We have managed to trace about 100 of them, but this remains one of the major effects of the pandemic: the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Some patients may have died from Covid-19 because of their fragile health or they may have simply preferred to turn to their local healers rather than come to the health centre .
In this context, how did you manage to maintain care? The pandemic led to the reorganisation of our services. We spaced out appointments and, in accordance with government guidelines, gave patients larger stocks of medicines to limit their movements and reduce the risk of contamination. And we kept a link with them by phone, leaving them our number and telling them to call if they had any problems. The pandemic forced us to interrupt the discussion groups that allowed us to respond to patients’ concerns on subjects such as food, privacy, procreation… They found themselves all the more isolated.
Do you think that the pandemic has led to a step backwards in the management of HIV/AIDS in Guinea? I completely agree that there has been a real step backwards. If you only knew how much interest there was in caring for PLWHIV when it was first introduced in Guinea? There was a real sense of hope. But after COVID-19, there was a form of lethargy, linked to the fact that some patients abandoned the Centre. People tend to forget about HIV in the context of this health crisis, but HIV also kills. The next few months will have to be spent catching up.