Central Government’s Message to Bay Islanders: Stay Home and Find Your Own Money for COVID-19 Emergency Center
There is another problem: according to Jayleen Coleman, Bay Islands Health Chief, there are also no trained medical technicians that would be able to maintain the respirators in operation, once Roatan would get them.
According to Dr. Paul Gale of the Cornerstone Clinic, at AKR in Sandy Bay, the only respirator that was being used at Roatan’s CEMESA hospital has been moved to San Pedro Sula before the lockdown begun. Now Bay Islanders have to secure medical equipment themselves. This is not atypical in a country of 9 million that has just 12 government owned respirators, according to mainland physician Dr. Victor Flores. According to Dr. Gale, the asymptomatic patients that would test positive for COVID-19 would be give acetaminophen and perhaps ivermectin.
While there are no respirators and few medicines, Roatanians are well on their way to finishing a COVID-19 treatment center. The facility is located on the second floor of the 110 by 180 foot Seventh Day Adventist convention center in French Harbour. The bare-bones facility has 30 beds, and there can be as many as 80 beds “spaced one meter apart,” according Dr. Gale. There are three beds placed on the speaking podium of the auditorium designated for serious COVID cases.
“When we started doctors didn’t want to come to work”.
The funds for the center come from private donations made to the Little Friends Foundation NGO whose president of the board is Steven Guillen. The fund has around $265,000 and $200,000 was donated by anonymous foreign donor. “[Central] Government only gave Lps. 150,000 ($6,000),” said about the fund Guillen. “We have to make it on our own.” This is tiny fraction of the $119 million loan approved for Honduras by World Bank and $143 provided by the International Monetary fund.
Erick Anderson, a Roatan resident and businessman, was one of the donors to the island’s COVID-19 emergency fund. “I think Michael Douglass could be interested in making a donation,” said Anderson about the American actor who has been his friend and also owns property in the island. Donations to the fund can be made by contacting the Little Friends Foundation at Littlefriendsfoundation@yahoo.com
Controlled media’s fear based coverage of the virus crisis caused hysteria and panic. “When we started doctors didn’t want to come to work,” Dr. Gale remembers the first weeks of the COVID-19 scare. “It’s much better now.”
While medical professionals abandoned their workplaces the anxiety of the population at risk soared. The groups that are the majority of the COVID-19 fatalities are those that are old, are already seriously sick and those with compromised immune system. Of the estimated 3,000 foreign residents on Roatan, majority are over 60-years-old and especially vulnerable to the Wuhan virus. Still the largest group susceptible to viruses are the island’s poor. Around half of the island’s 100,000 residents live in poverty sustaining themselves on a diet of GMO rice, red beans, corn flour and vegetable oil – high in sugar, fats, and with little nutritional value or vitamins.
Both central and local governments had done nothing to boost these people’s immunity, and have actually compromised it further limiting the islander’s ability to exercise, take in vitamin D from the sun and treat preexisting heath conditions. These vulnerable island residents will be like sitting ducks for any virus, or a mosquito born disease.
While Honduras suffers epidemics yearly, what the country’s population is not accustomed to is martial law restrictions of house-arrest, forced business shut down and restrictions on travel. In 2019 Honduras registered 115,000 cases of dengue and 177 deaths, its worst outbreak in 50 years. In 2019 Honduras had hundreds of cases of mosquito born chikungunya and zica. Also in 2008 Honduras reported over 10,000 malaria cases, some of them deadly.
Until now Honduras reported 2,006 COVID-19 cases and 116 with COVID-19 deaths. The global lockdown strategy that Honduras is a part of could eventually be seen as the biggest medical and economic policy mistake in human history.