The team of healthcare workers that will go to Suriname to help fight the corona virus will leave Schiphol for Paramaribo on Friday afternoon.

Former director-general Marc Sprenger of RIVM leads the mission.

Before leaving, he said he was "extremely proud" of the team, which was put together in a week.

Suriname is suffering from a huge corona wave.

Due to the increasing number of infections, the highest risk levels are in effect.

The crisis is difficult to contain, due to shortages of healthcare personnel, medicines and aids.

On Friday, 23 volunteers from care will fly to Suriname, all of whom are vaccinated and have experience with COVID-19 care.

It includes IC nurses, lab analysts, doctors and infectiologists.

They stay for two to three weeks.

Another group will arrive next Friday, creating a kind of "relay race" of corona help.

In total, more than a hundred people signed up to go.

The team is also taking medicines such as anticoagulants and painkillers with them, and ventilators will be shipped to Suriname next Tuesday. According to Sprenger, there is currently a need for acute care, but he emphasizes that it is important to listen carefully to what people say they need. "We're going to work together so we can empower them."

Next week, the first shipment of 40,000 AstraZeneca vaccines will also go to the South American country.



reported earlier this week that 100,000 vaccines from that manufacturer are on the shelf in the Netherlands, which could therefore also be sent to Suriname.

According to Sprenger, however, it makes no sense to just bring so many doses into the country.

"We first have to look at how the vaccines can be properly cooled there and also driven around. It is therefore good that the vaccines are sent in doses."

See also: Coronavirus 'uncontrollable' in Suriname: code black and strict lockdown

'Experience with corona care has been our training'

According to infectiologist Denise Telgt, who coordinates the selection of volunteers, the team is warmly received by Suriname.

"We only receive enthusiastic messages via WhatsApp. And on arrival we are welcomed by the Minister of Health."

Sieshem Bindraban, who is training as a lung specialist at the Franciscus Gasthuis in Rotterdam and will provide assistance in Suriname, says he has a personal relationship with the country.

"My parents were both born there. We still have a lot of family there."

The hospital gives her paid leave for her trip.

The volunteers have not had special training, "our experience with corona care has been our training".

The care team is expected to fly around 12:30 p.m. It is not yet known how long the mission will last. According to Sprenger, it could be weeks, but possibly months.