Interview with Jira Bulahi, Minister of Health of SADR

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PUSL.- The Covid 19 Pandemic affected all countries of the globe, not sparing the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. In an interview with Jira Bulahi, Minister of Health, she tells us how they face the virus in the refugee camps and in liberated territories.

PUSL – What is the current situation in relation to infected, deceased and sources of transmission in the camps?

J. B. – So far there have been 5 cases of which two have died and three have already recovered, and we are waiting for the result of the new PCR tests of people who have been in isolation or treatment, which will be reported as soon as we have the definitive results.

PUSL – The SADR has asked organizations and the international community for help as well as several NGOs for equipment, means of diagnosis and treatment, what is the response to this request?

J.B. – The request for help has been made to organizations and NGOs, especially organizations that are responsible for refugees, as well as regional organizations to which we belong, such as the African Union, from and a satisfactory response has been obtained from all. Although there is no specific item, all of them have made a great effort and demonstrated complete availability to respond to this situation generated by COVID.

PUSL – How have these aids been applied?

J.B. – All the aid has not yet arrived, but steps have already been taken and responses are being given according to the needs, at the same time there are NGOs and agencies dependent on UNHCR that work on the ground, so the answer is being as good as the circumstances allow, such as the closure of borders and access to the market where the necessary means can be acquired to deal with this pandemic.

PUSL – The SADR has implemented prevention measures since the middle of March. What are the measures at this time and how is the population of the camps and liberated territories reacting?

J.B. – The health system of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic works in the Refugee Camps and in the Liberated Zones.

Fortunately, in the Liberated Zones they are still in phase 1 of the action protocol consisting of prevention and in the camps with the appearance of the first cases in the month of July, a series of more rigid measures such as the use of of the mask and a more exhaustive control in hygiene with the implementation of sinks at different points, the mobility of the population has been limited.
Health campaigns are carried out by the different willayas in order to sensitize the population and ensure the application of prevention protocols and monitor the performance of the tests.
A census of people with chronic diseases has also been carried out to identify the population at risk and a special surveillance of people over 60 years of age.

PUSL – How can the solidarity movement help?

J.B. – The solidarity movement has always been there and the simple fact of feeling their attention, solidarity and affection gives great encouragement to the population and health personnel. Although there are specific needs that must be met as means of transport for those affected and the need to disinfect said means after use, protective material and safe means so that health personnel can perform their functions safely. It is also important to condition the existing sanitary spaces and even build new ones in anticipation of an increase in the number of infected and to be able to provide safe and quality care, the condition of these spaces requires sanitary equipment such as bedding, adequate clothing for the personnel .

We were aware that this moment was going to come, it is a pandemic that has spread throughout the world and we are not on the sidelines, from the structures of the SADR and the Frente POLISARIO we have known how to anticipate ourselves and hence the success with a clear objective which is to limit as much as possible the effect it may have on the population.

We are aware that our reality, our limitations and our way of coexistence and habits means that the smallest consequence can be very serious for us, hence our constant struggle to limit the spread of this pandemic. Fortunately, the population has responded very well with great responsibility. The number of those affected is not alarming, but this does not mean that we let our guard down.

I want to thank all our people for their responsibility and all our friends for always being there when we need them despite the distance, the closing of borders and having suffered in their own countries the problem of this pandemic and to whom we also want to send all our support and solidarity.

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