Private health providers under the aegis of Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN) have said the Federal Government needs to collaborate with private hospitals in the fight against the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) ravaging the country.
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The AGPMPN alongside the Guild of Medical Doctors (GMD) stated this in reaction to comments made recently by Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, regarding the capability of private hospitals to manage COVID-19 cases.
Speaking at a press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Friday, Ehanire said no private healthcare facility has been accredited to treat COVID-19 patients as “no private hospital that has met those criteria at the moment”.
But speaking in different interviews, the AGPMPN and GMD disagreed with the minister, saying that most COVID-19 patients visit private hospitals before they are recommended to a government-accredited isolation centre.
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Dr Ugwu Odo, National President, AGPMPN, insisted that the Federal Government should mobilise private hospitals to scale up their capacity, adding that government hospitals alone cannot manage what he described a growing health concern.
“Is that the way government collaborates with its people? Do we need to apply? Does every hospital apply anywhere in the world? Health care is predominantly a concern for public and private sectors and you cannot successfully separate them. That is why we now have the public-private partnership, knowing that no matter how wealthy or powerful a government is, it cannot do it alone,” Odo told the Punch.
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“The Federal Government should not wait for us to apply, they should mobilise their human and material resources to support the public and private health care providers.”
“It bothers us that even up till Thursday, our own minister is still making the world feel that the private sector is not part of this scheme and the private sector is to just identity possible or probable COVID-19 patients and refer to the nearest centre. Is that what the doctor has become?
“It’s not done. The doctor has to be the doctor he’s trained to be. He has to show compassion; the National Health Act which they are part of in putting in place recognises that doctors have to care, provide that initial emergency care, stabilise their patients before they make referral.”
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Odo claimed that the private hospitals attend to 70 per cent of Nigerians, maintaining that the sector could not be marginalised.
He added that the association had tried to engage the Federal Government, the health minister and the directors in the ministry on the need to protect, empower, motivate, encourage and pacify everyone to combat the pandemic.
In the same vein, Professor Femi Dokun-Babalola, National President of GMD, said it is unfortunate that the Federal Government had not given the private hospitals the needed support in the management of COVID-19 patients.
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On the capacity of private hospitals to detect patients COVID-19 cases, he explained that medical professionals in the facilities can only know after examining any patient.
“To the best of my knowledge, not much has been done to collaborate with us. We have had meeting with the Federal Government where we told the Minister of Health that we are not being carried along in management of COVID-19 in the country so far.
“One of the things we told the minister was that the private hospitals are always in the frontline of attack by these patients. They will come to the private hospitals without knowing they have COVID-19 before we start treating them.
“Even though we have warned our members to take precautions, you cannot really tell that a patient has COVID-19 until you have interacted with them during which period we may have been exposed to that patient,” Dokun-Babalola said.