‘Health passport’ to be launched in Monchique for “situations of catastrophe”

‘Health passport’ to be launched in Monchique for “situations of catastrophe”

Monchique is launching a potentially life-saving ‘health passport’ containing all the information doctors may need to know about patients in the event of catastrophic situations like 2018’s summer wildfire.

The passport will be the size of a “small card” and will include information about the patient’s allergies, medication and vaccines as well as if the patient suffers from issues such as high blood pressure. Thus the document will also come in handy in other situations as well.

The project will be officially unveiled in Monchique on Sunday, August 9 and is a joint effort involving Monchique council and the Algarve health board (ARS), with the goal being to eventually expand the idea to other regions.

Nurse Patrícia Carneiro, the woman behind the project, told Lusa news agency that the passport “could make all the difference, especially in the case of the elderly”.

The idea was spawned by the aftermath of last year’s devastating wildfire.

“We have to draw conclusions and act so that we no longer have trouble identifying people and their health needs,” she said.

As Lusa points out, the high death count of the wildfires that ripped through Portugal’s centre region in 2017 led authorities to take preventive measures during the August 2018 fire in Monchique, such as evacuating locals – most of them elderly – before they could collect all their health documents.

This created a problem, explained Carneiro, as doctors and other health professionals had a much harder time identifying people’s medical needs.

During last year’s fire, the focus at first was on making sure people had access to their medication and were in a stable condition.

But in the aftermath of the destruction, psychological support is essential. The nurse explains that some people would continuously seek support from the local health centre due to the emotions they were feeling, though this eventually diminished with time.

The 2018 fire started in Monchique on August 3 and wreaked havoc for one week, destroying around 27,000 hectares of land. A public hearing about the blaze is being held this Saturday at the Fonte Chorões restaurant in Monchique (click here).

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Photo: Bruno Filipe Pires/Open Media