Ryan Dagur, Jakarta – The main hospital in Catholic-majority Timor-Leste is forcing people to share beds as it battles a significant spike in dengue fever cases that has killed six children over the last month.
Alito Soares, executive director of Guido Valadares National Hospital, the only hospital that provides primary and secondary care to patients across the country, said there is no more space to accommodate new patients despite the number of people requiring hospitalization increasing.
He said the 350-bed hospital has been swamped by 40-60 patients requiring hospitalization each day over the last month due to dengue fever.
"Currently, 750 patients are being treated in this hospital, mostly due to dengue fever. Since there are only 350 beds, two patients are required to use one bed," he told reporters on Jan. 5.
"We need to use all beds, some of which are in corridors for patients who need intensive care."
He said the hospital would no longer treat patients with mild conditions as they should be treated at health centers across Dili.
Many parents send their children to hospitals when their children's situation gets worse, making it difficult for hospitals to save them
Timor-Leste recorded 672 cases of dengue fever across the country in the first 11 months of last year with eight deaths.
However, cases have spiked since December, with the capital Dili worst affected with at least 200 cases and six deaths, all of them children.
Agustinha Segurado, head of the Dili City Health Office, said environmental factors were the main cause of the increase in the transmission of the disease.
She called on the public to spray areas where dengue-carrying mosquitoes breed. She also urged parents who suspect their children have dengue to immediately send them to government-owned hospitals for treatment.
"Many parents send their children to hospitals when their children's situation gets worse, making it difficult for hospitals to save them," she said.
Francisco Borges, director of the Medicines and Medical Devices Storage Agency at the Ministry of Health, said supplies of mosquito-repellent powder and liquid from Australia were scheduled to arrive early next month.