This article was originally published on www.orderofmalta.int.
What role does herd immunity play in managing Covid 19? Are there studies underway investigating the relationship in morbidity or mortality from Covid 19 with tuberculosis and HIV? Among all the treatment that is being trialed against Covid 19 is there any one drug or group of drugs that seem more effective at reducing either or both mortality and morbidity? These are some of the questions addressed by the South African doctors who took part in the latest Doctor to Doctor online discussion, yesterday 18 June.
South Africa has confirmed nearly 90,000 cases of Covid and over 1,600 deaths. The country is facing great challenges due to the extreme poverty in many areas, poor sanitation and scarce water facilities, combined with a very high HIV infection rate. Since the early days of the pandemic outbreak, back in February, Blessed Gérard’s Care Centre, which is the Order of Malta’s care facility in South Africa, has been reaching out to the needy and the most vulnerable distributing lifesaving medicines and food parcels on a daily basis. Medication for HIV-AIDS patients has also been supplied regularly especially during the lockdown period, when stocks of retroviral drugs to those in need of them.
Restrictions are now being eased, despite the increase in number of infections and the possible peak which is expected over the summer, say the doctors of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard, participating in the virtual meeting together with Father Gérard who has been running the care facility for 25 years. The discussion centred around the management of Covid patients in the hospitals and Dr. Rainer Löb from Malteser Hilfsdienst was able to account for the experience in Germany providing practical information on medical therapies and on the organization of wards to reduce the risk of contagions. The provision of extensive online training to the medical staff proved pivotal in reducing infections among health workers, said Dr. Löb.
The discussion also touched the long term social and economic effects of the pandemic highlighting the challenges that many countries are now facing, and which need to be addressed urgently.
Aim of the Doctor to Doctor project, coordinated by the Foreign Affairs department of the Grand Magistry, is to create a network of medical and scientific experts to discuss and exchange information on the treatment of Covid 19 and, from a wider perspective, to tackle the most pressing needs emerging from the health crisis generated by the pandemic. So far, online meetings have taken place with Palestine, Yemen and Lebanon in addition to yesterday’s.