Private hospitals to rescue rising virus cases

Owing to rising cases of Coronavirus infection and the inability of government facilities to cope, more private hospitals have been given the green light to treat patients.

Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire said on Tuesday that accreditation had been given to more private hospitals in Lagos and other parts of the country.

This new approach is a modification of the government’s position last month that private hospitals were barred from treating patients.

Mallam Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, died at a private hospital in Lagos of Coronavirus complications on April 17.

As at last night, the virus positive cases had inched near 5,000, with the government worried about the shortage of bed spaces at the treatment isolation centres.

Ehanire, who spoke at the daily briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 control, in Abuja, said besides the accreditation already given out, teams had been despatched to mant parts of the country to assess private hospitals for the purpose of allowing them to treat patients should they meet the protocols as developed by the PTF.

Dr. Ehanire said: “We have developed a protocol for accreditation. They have been given to many of the states. Special teams have been sent out to help. The team that was sent to Kano has already visited about four states in the North to help set up the accreditation.

Government hospitals and teaching hospitals have been examined and accredited and some state hospitals as well. Private hospitals, some in Lagos have been accredited but I can’t give you the exact number. But they have been accredited by the teams sent to the states.”

Although he did not release the guidelines which the private hospitals must meet to be given the signal to treat patients, he had last month said: “If you as a private hospital want to run a treatment centre for Coronavirus, you have to show first of all that you have the staff; a doctor who must be an infectious disease specialist and nurses and even cleaners who are trained in infection prevention protocol. The operations are different from what obtains in other hospitals.”

Ehanire said there has been “no new infections of health workers reported in recent times, as those who have recovered are awaiting certification to resume work. I can’t give you a direct number and they are not all in one place. So, I can’t give you a count if you are asking how many.”

He urged the organs of state maintaining vigilance at the borders, including the Port Health Services, to keep up the good work and not to relent.

About 150 health workers have so far been infected by the virus, according to the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Francis Faduyile.

Dr. Ehanire said: “The FMoH has been closely monitoring and reviewing the unfolding situation in some states, where covid19 appears to have gained ground. We had responded to the situation in Kano by dispatching a team of medical experts to provide technical support to the Ministry of Health in the states.

“I am happy to inform that the team has done well in their assignment and has reported a lot of success in helping to stabilise the state’s health system and assuage the disquiet among health workers, who are to restart routine service delivery.”

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