Eswatini News

Scots join Covid fight on African frontline as fears grow over third wave in Eswatini

It is a country half the size of the Scottish Highlands but with one of the worst death rates from Covid-19 in the world.

Eswatini in southern Africa has been ravaged by two waves of coronavirus and even its prime minister lost his life to it in December.

But with limited oxygen supplies and no widespread vaccine rollout on the horizon, fears are growing over the deadly impact that could be caused if it is struck by a third wave.

Now, two Scots medics are spearheading an international emergency mission to help strengthen the country’s response to the pandemic.

Andy Kent, a trauma and orthopaedic consultant based at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, and David Anderson, a Montrose-born senior nurse specialist, were deployed to Eswatini a fortnight ago in response to a plea for help to the international medical community.

Andy Kent at Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital in Manzini, Eswatini © Supplied
Andy Kent at Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital in Manzini, Eswatini

Andy, who is leading the 11-strong team, said: “We want to make sure if there is another wave that the country has the capacity to deal with that.

“If the vaccine is the panacea we don’t really know when it finally is going to come into the country, and even when it does it’s going to take a long time to be distributed.”

David, who worked for the NHS for 32 years, added: “It’s really about training and education, so capacity building, and being able to leave behind a legacy of people who will carry on that really good work.”

The flag of Eswatini © Shutterstock / Volonoff
The flag of Eswatini

Eswatini – formerly known as Swaziland – has been hit hard by Covid-19 as some regions have seen a death rate of 6.8% of patients who contract the virus. Overall, the country has a death rate of 3.8%.

The deaths from Covid-19 of the Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini and three senior government ministers caused shockwaves.

Andy and David are working with UK-Med, a humanitarian healthcare charity which provides frontline services in partnership with the FCDO.

Both were part of the team sent to Lebanon after an explosion at a port in Beirut killed 204 people and injured thousands more last August.

Since arriving in Eswatini’s Manzini district, they have encountered many of the same challenges as the UK in tackling the pandemic, though exacerbated by lack of funding and equipment.

Andy said: “A lot of the doctors here are saying they fully anticipate there’s going to be another surge in cases.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that’s not going to be the case but only time will tell.”

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