Overcoming Medical Evacuation Challenges during the COVID-19 Pandemic
MEDEVAC FROM MYANMAR TO KENYA: HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
Marc Roux, Marketing & Communication Manager, Myanmar
8 May 2020
On Friday 8 May 2020, our Bangkok Assistance Centre received an early morning call from a 50-year-old Kenyan national, requesting immediate medical support. Aasir¹, who works for one of our corporate members, was feeling very unwell with growing concern related to his illness.
Immediately after the call, we mobilised our clinic ambulance in order to pick up Aasir and take him to our Yangon clinic for an immediate medical assessment. With the restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic in place, transporting Aasir and welcoming him to the clinic facility required the application of strict health and safety procedures to protect both Aasir and our staff.
As hospitalisation was required, we leveraged our assistance network to find the most appropriate hospital. The hospitalisation also required us to follow strict pandemic related procedures with the provision of constant medical care to monitor Aasir's condition. Meanwhile, we kept liaising with his family and employer, providing up-to-date information on this evolving situation. With the current travel complications and requirements, it was very challenging to facilitate a local medical evacuation. As the patient was due to undergo surgical treatment, he preferred to have it performed in his home country in the presence of his family.
Following further medical consultation, the decision was taken to evacuate Aasir to his home country, our staff organised all the medical evacuation processes. Our team cooperated with his embassy and the Myanmar health authorities to perform COVID-19 testing as a precondition to authorise such evacuation. In parallel, we identified and mobilised an air ambulance provider that could fly from Yangon to Kenya - Swiss Air Ambulance REGA. This required us to get the authorisation to land and take off from Yangon international Airport, as well as the destination airport amidst the numerous travel restrictions. Finally, we needed to ensure that Aasir was “fit to fly” with the appropriate treatment and medical escort.
After receiving all clearances from the Myanmar health authorities, the foreign affairs offices and the aviation authorities from both countries, the medical evacuation was made possible after a week of hard work and dedication.
Aasir arrived safely to his destination, and was transported to a local hospital where he received the necessary surgical treatment with the support of his family.
We would like to thank our medical partners and the Myanmar authorities for supporting our operations, and of course, all our medical team who have been working exceptionally hard to make this medevac possible.