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Israel sends medical delegation to COVID-stricken Uruguay

Doctors from a leading Israeli hospital are on their way to the South American country to help fight a mushrooming coronavirus crisis there.
Uruguay's Ambassador to Israel Bernardo Griever (in suit) wishes the Sheba Medical Center team traveling to his home country a successful journey. Alongside him is Prof. Arnon Afek, the deputy director general of the hospital. Photo courtesy of Sheba Medical Center.
Uruguay's Ambassador to Israel Bernardo Griever (in suit) wishes the Sheba Medical Center team traveling to his home country a successful journey. Alongside him is Prof. Arnon Afek, the deputy director general of the hospital. Photo courtesy of Sheba Medical Center.

A delegation from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center traveled to Uruguay on Monday to share the experience acquired in Israel on combating the coronavirus crisis.

Uruguay, which has a population of just 3.46 million, has recently seen an escalation in coronavirus cases. According to government records, there are now 27,398 active COVID-19 cases in the country. Since the outbreak of the crisis, 2,391 people have died from the virus.

“Our main aim is to share the information that we’ve acquired over the past 14 months, since last February, regarding everything to do with treating COVID,” said Amit Gutkind, the director of Sheba’s unit for quality and safety of care.

Gutkind is leading the hospital’s Israel Center for Disaster Medicine  Humanitarian Mission delegation to Uruguay, which also includes a senior doctor and nurse from the COVID intensive-care unit and the hospital’s vice president of logistics.

The delegation is set to remain in Uruguay for a week, during which time it will visit hospitals, enter coronavirus wards and render assistance to the medical teams. It will also tour the country’s vaccination sites.

“We’re going in order to pass on information on two fronts,” said Gutkind. “One is the issue of treating patients at the intensive care units, and the other is the logistics of supplying vaccinations.”

The team is also set to discuss with its hosts a number of complex logistical operations carried out at the hospital since the outbreak of the crisis, such as the establishment of a COVID psychiatric ward and a coronavirus dialysis ward.

“There are all kinds of projects that are pretty unique in the world of [coronavirus], and we’ll be happy to share with them both the logistic and clinical aspects of them,” said Gutkind.

“We’re hoping that there’ll be a two-way cooperation that will enrich logistical and clinical information, that will provide an opening for further dialogue on any issue needed in order to make the change that Uruguay wishes for. And, of course, to save lives,” he said.

The fact that the Israeli delegation is traveling to Uruguay, he noted, is a testament to the friendly relations between the two countries.

“The relationship between Israel and Uruguay is well-established and friendly,” he said. “We’re there to help them at this difficult time.”

This is not the first time that Sheba has sent medical aid to a country stricken by COVID-19. In December, a team of 20 doctors and nurses flew to northern Italy to assist a local hospital dealing with a serious outbreak of the disease.

The 10-day mission was initiated following an appeal from the governor of the Piedmont district to Dror Eydar, Israel’s ambassador to Italy.

This article first appeared in Israel21c.

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