Humanitarian Medical Aid Mission in the middle of a Pandemic - Israeli Experience in Equatorial Guinea

Amir Shlaifer, Asaf Berman, Avi Benov, Guy Friedman, Tomer Koller, Ran Ankory, Ofer Almog, Elhanan Bar On, Shachar Shapira, Moti Harats, Elon Glassberg, Noam Fink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: In March 2021, a series of explosions shook a military base in Bata, Equatorial Guinea. As a response to government officials' request, the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps (IDF-MC) deployed an emergency aid team that faced two major challenges: (1) understanding the scenario, the injury patterns, and the needs of the local medical system; and (2) minimizing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak threats. This report describes the team design, the activities performed before and during the deployment, analyzes the pathology encountered, and shares lessons learned from the mission. Sources: Data were collected from the delegation protocols and IDF medical records. All activities of the Israeli delegation were coordinated with the local government. Observations: The local authorities reported that a total of 107 people were killed and more than 700 people were wounded. The team was the first international team to arrive at the scene and assisted the local medical teams to treat 231 patients in the three local hospitals and 213 patients in field clinics in the villages surrounding Bata. The COVID-19 pandemic influenced the operation of this mission, and caution measures were activated. Analysis: Unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS) are a growing problem causing the medical teams to face unique challenges. By understanding the expected challenges, the team was reinforced with a plastic surgeon, portable ultrasound devices, a large amount and a variety of antibiotics, whole blood units, and freeze-dried plasma. Rehabilitation experts were needed in some cases in the week following the injury. An important key for the success of this kind of medical aid delegation is the collaboration with the local medical teams, which enhances patient care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • humanitarian medical aid mission
  • unplanned explosions at munitions site (UEMS)

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