The Health Sector and Collaboration to End COVID-19

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By Dorcas Omotayo

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As Coronavirus pandemic continues to claim lives across the world, healthcare workers are not left out as they are the ones waging war against the dreaded virus. However, they are bond by the hippocratic oath to save lives at all cost, but who will save the frontline health workers and those working in the outpatient departments?

With the inadequate supply of Personal Protective Equipment in Nigeria, healthcare workers are practically risking their lives on a daily basis with the deaths of a few healthcare workers that had been recorded recently. Hopelessness, anxiety and fear might begin to creep into an already collapsing health sector in the country.

In all bravery and willingness to see that the virus is tackled, the health sector has recorded a great loss. Dr. Chugbo Emeka who passed on in Lagos after being exposed to a COVID-19 patient he was treating in his private hospital. Following this and other cases being reported by private hospitals being exposed to the virus, which might further aid the spread in other communities, the Federal Government however gave a warning to private hospitals to desist from treating infected patients.

Unfortunately, the “Bigmanism” syndrome we have in the country, had made some “animals” more equal than others. As mentioned in the movie, Bling Lagosians, the one per cent of the one per cent in the country, are currently living above all the laws given by the government agencies. These individuals have shunned the designated isolation centres because they want the best care possible, they have pressurized the government to accredit few private hospitals exclusive for their use. Meanwhile, these persons cannot be totally vindicated of the rot experienced in the government hospitals where there there are acute shortages of personnel and equipment.

In a joint statement by Dr Saliu Oseni and Dr Ramon Moronkola, the Lagos State Chairman and Secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), they said that the treatment of COVID-19 patients in the private hospitals might likely be the missing link to the worsening community transmission currently occurring in the state.

According to them, the private hospitals do not have the capacity for infection control and surveillance might be limited, thus exacerbating community transmission of COVID-19 infection.

It would be recalled that a Private hospital located in Rajpura, India was sealed after a woman tested positive for coronavirus. This makes one wonder if it is wise and rational to involve the private sector in this battle. However, both public and private sector can join forces to combat this virus, especially with the number of persons who may already be asymptomatic. Even the Bible confirms that two are better than one. It does not end there as the same Bible says that five will chase a hundred and a hundred shall put ten thousand to flight. The public health sector in a few days might become overwhelmed with cases of the virus, that is if they are not already.

Looking at Pakistan with close to 7,000 cases has now involved private hospitals in its national response plans in anticipation of the threat of community transmission. Just like Nigeria, they as well have a challenge with PPE. But we don’t have to wait until the number of cases hit the roof before we begin to strategize.

Having said that, private hospitals in Nigeria might not have the capacity to test and treat the virus but it is also important to note that people cannot be prevented from visiting private hospital when ill and this illness could very well be the monstrous COVID-19.

Yes, private hospitals will comply with the NCDC and NMA directives, just as seen in the Ajah hospital case, where a patient who was admitted and later discovered to be Covid-positive. The patient was then evacuated and the hospital decontaminated but for how long will this continue? How many private hospitals will be decontaminated before we agree that we need to collaborate so as to beat this virus face down? The earlier we begin to work together, the better for Nigeria health sector.

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