MAP brings essential COVID-19 training to health workers battling the pandemic in Gaza, West Bank and Lebanon

The occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and Lebanon are currently experiencing a worrying surge in Coronavirus infections that is stretching capacity and resources of local health systems close to breaking point. There have been 98,850 confirmed cases across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza and 126,903 in Lebanon, including 2,311 among Palestinian refugees, with hundreds more being announced each day. Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that, in Gaza, "within a week, we will become unable to care for critical cases."

As part of our ongoing emergency response, on 22 November Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) held a multidisciplinary COVID-19 training for Palestinian health workers with the support of high-profile specialists from the UK and Dr Mai Alkaila, the Minister of Health in Palestine.

Specialists in epidemiology, respiratory diseases, critical care, palliative care and care of the elderly from a number of teaching hospitals in the UK joined Dr Andy Ferguson, MAP’s Director of Programmes, to deliver a timely workshop – ‘COVID-19: Intensive Care to Community’ – designed to help improve the treatment and care for coronavirus patients in Palestine.

One hundred and forty key managers and clinicians from the Palestinian Ministry of Health in West Bank and Gaza and Palestine Red Crescent Society hospitals in Lebanon participated in the workshop, exchanging information about the pandemic within the region and their responses to it.

The workshop updated attendees with the latest scientific information on COVID-19 and best guidelines and protocols for managing the disease, including epidemiology; care in the community; assessment and care in the emergency department; admission to hospital; escalation of care to ventilatory support and intensive care/mechanical ventilation; stepping down care; discharge from hospital; and finally follow-up arrangements to identify ongoing complications.

Speaking after the event Dr Andy Ferguson, MAP’s Director of Programmes, said:

“The engagement from everyone who attended was fantastic, with participants in Palestine raising challenging questions and giving excellent feedback, and urgently requesting further training. MAP hopes to arrange another workshop in a few weeks which will be entirely case-based, so local Palestinians clinicians can ask a panel of experts from the UK for help and advice with the challenging cases they are treating and the panel can perhaps present some of their challenging cases too. I’d like to say thank you to everyone who made the workshop such a success.”

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