Policy responses for Belarus - HSRM


Policy responses for Belarus

2. Ensuring sufficient physical infrastructure and workforce capacity

ENSURING SUFFICIENT PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND WORKFORCE CAPACITY is crucial for dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, as there may be both a surge in demand and a decreased availability of health workers. The section considers the physical infrastructure available in a country and where there are shortages, it describes any measures being implemented or planned to address them. It also considers the health workforce, including what countries are doing to maintain or enhance capacity, the responsibilities and skill-mix of the workforce, and any initiatives to train or otherwise support health workers.

2.1 Physical infrastructure

Hospitals of Vitebsk are gradually returning to normal operation. Vitebsk regional hospital will return to normal operation from 25 May. This was announced on May 19 in Vitebsk by the Minister of Health Vladimir Karanik. A growing number of hospitals in Minsk are also resuming normal operations after disinfection. However, on 9 July, the Minister of Health stated that preparations for ensuring functioning of the country’s healthcare organizations in the event of a second wave, is ongoing.

Hospital premises throughout the country were repurposed, and resources were redirected to serve the infected and those who contacted them. As of 27 March 2020, the Ministry of Health reports that there is a sufficient amount of beds, equipment, medications and PPE for staff in the country (http://minzdrav.gov.by/ru/sobytiya/brifing-v-minzdrave-po-voprosam-situatsii-s-covid-19/). Prior to COVID-19, Belarus had one of the largest number of beds per capita in the WHO Europe region. The current total number of hospitals with intensive care units is 360, including in the following areas: Brest - 60, Vitebsk - 59, Gomel - 54, Grodno - 49, Minsk - 54, Mogilev - 39, Minsk - 45. The current total number of ICU beds is 2575, including in the following areas: Brest -  285 beds, Vitebsk - 333 beds, Gomel 356 beds, Grodno 287 beds, Minsk region 310 beds, Mogilev 285 beds, Minsk city 719 beds. There are currently 2049 ventilation machines in the country.

Currently, 4 hospitals have been completely re-profiled for COVID-19 in Minsk city and 1 in each regional (oblast) centre. Numerous other hospitals are ready for re-profiling when needed. Due to the comparatively small number of patients (as of 29 March 2020 – 94) all of them are being treated in Minsk city infectious disease hospital.

The MoH introduced limits for pharmacies when selling certain drugs and medical devices to individual customers. Limits were introduced including paracetamol, medical masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers. Selected medical goods (not only those made in Belarus) are temporarily prohibited from being taken out of the country. Surgical coats, face masks, bandages, gauze, cotton wool, surgical gloves and other medical supplies and equipment are on the list. Domestic production of medical masks has been increased to over 100 000 per day.