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YYY: The Road to Calvary - Burundi’s public health service

The Road to Calvary - Burundi’s public health service

 Clin d'œil (Burundi) 14 May 2019

(Originally published: 04/2010) The people of Burundi are starting to pay for the country’s public health services – with their own health. Just waiting for an emergency appointment is a struggle. Patients collapse as they wait in line, administrators ‘losing’ forms and favouring some invalids over others. Burundian paper Clin d’œil reports on the state of their country’s health system, calling for change from the State. (467 words) - By Staff writer

Why receiving medical treatment is becoming a problem in Burundi

• The country's public health system affects the entire population
• Patients can't take any more
• The services available are bad and it's the patients and their health who are paying for it.
• The State should step up to fix this
• Help the patients!


They arrive one by one, from very early on in the day, hoping to be seen as soon as possible. Naturally, the staff arrive on time and are ready to get started for the day - at least, that's the impressions that they give…

During this time, the number of patients grows and gradually more and more arrive as the day goes on, each with as serious an emergency as the next, to be served as quickly and as soon as possible. Here, each hospital is governed by a set of rules, but there is no note for patients and visitors about what rules are to be followed and consulted. It should be noted that nonentities (newcomers) face big problems.

Conventionally, the documents that new patients are required to bring are given to the receptionist on arrival at the emergency clinic to make the order in which patients are seen fairer. But that is just the theory, as cheating and internal arrangements are common: patients whose forms which are not filed will be sent away, leaving patients resigned and suffering.

And watch out for the latecomers who don't understand what's going on. To be more precise, we are at the University hospital centre in Kamenge, where doctors, medical students and nurses combine their efforts to help the ill. Here, the lack of nursing staff remains a problem and the consequences are serious when combined with a lack of equipment and medicine. The tragedy is that the emergency admissions service, made up nearly exclusively of women - and almost any witness would testify to that statement - handles hardly any medical cases.

There is such disappointment after nearly an hour of waiting, the earliest arrivals still wait standing up, stretched out where possible, for fear of being overtaken by a new arrival. You would think that there is an automatic formula and that your time to be seen is in the bag to keep everything running to time. But you will see eventually that the mood of the staff, the repelling coldness of the room and their frustration make them show their irritation by pouring bile on patients who try to express their discomfort.

It is as though waiting is the price that these people must pay for their health. Most of those who are suffering end up collapsing or take a seat on a bench while others rest against the wall, looking for an available space, waiting, resigned to the Road to Calvary.

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