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Frontpage News 2008 Norwegian Foreign Minister visits Estonian project

EE0021 Foreign minister Stoere

Norwegian Foreign Minister visits Estonian project

Estonia's efforts to combat communicable diseases such as HIV and AIDS are supported through the Norway Grants. This week Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre visited one of the four Estonian projects targeting communicable diseases.

The Communicable Diseases Clinic in West-Tallinn Central Hospital (WTCH) is the only hospital in the Tallinn area with capacity to treat patients with infectious diseases. The hospital is also the national reference centre for HIV and AIDS. Estonia has the highest prevalence of HIV in Europe and also the steepest increase in the number of HIV-infected persons.

Renovations to ensure safety

With buildings dating back to 1964, the hospital faces an urgent need for renovation and upgrades on the sanitation and ventilation conditions. With an increasing number of patients having HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis at the same time, the hospital needs to enhance its capacity to treat a higher number of patients in perfect isolation conditions and in intensive care. Only one fourth of the current 100 bed places, of which half are reserved for children, meet the safety requirements for treatment of contagious diseases. Several of the rooms are large and poorly suited to treat patients.

With €1.1 million in support from Norway the hospital is now able to upgrade its facilities and improve the conditions for patients. In addition to a complete renovation of the ventilation system three of the clinic's floors will be modernised. The large rooms will be split into smaller units, and each will be equipped with a shower and a toilet.
The funding will also enable the hospital to purchase 2 new washing machines for endoscope diagnostic tools, used to assess the interior surfaces of an organ. The hospital has long worried about their out of date cleaning process for these tools, used on patients with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. With the existing washing machine usually overloaded, staff often needs to manually clean the tubes, posing a risk for patients.

Supporting the most vulnerable

During his visit, Norway's Foreign Minister Støre underlined the significance of the Estonian health projects. "The efforts to combat the spread of communicable diseases are important. We support society's weakest and most vulnerable", Støre said. He also commended Head of the communicable disease clinic of WTCH Kai Zilmer and her staff for their involvement and great ownership in the project.

EE0021 bed places

The large rooms are not suited to treat communicable diseases. These rooms will therefore be spit into smaller units.

The project at West-Tallinn Central Hospital is one of four Estonian projects targeting communicable diseases within the priority sector for health and childcare under the EEA and Norway Grants.