The Guild of Medical Directors has pledged to support the Federal and State Governments in the fight against the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19).
The President of the GMD, Prof. Femi Babalola made the pledge in a statement in Abuja.
“We have volunteered our ambulances and ventilators, and even some of our hospitals for full conversion to treat Covid 19 cases.
“We are certain by the grace of God, to overcome this trial,”he said.
Babalola also said private practitioners were in the frontline of the fight against COVID 19.
He however, appealed to the Federal Ministry of Health to assist in the provision of appropriate Personal protective equipments to enable private hospitals to continue attending to patients during this difficult period.
“The fact that we have a COVID 19 crisis does not mean that other illnesses for which care is required have ceased to exist. Indeed, as illustrated earlier, patients may still require emergency intervention.
“To facilitate the quick identification of patients with COVID 19, private hospitals need to be provided with rapid serological test kits.
“Some of these kits, such as the Cellex Incorporation test, or the Chembio test, have already been validated by the American Food and Drug Administration and are in use in the USA,” Babalola said.
He said they were sufficiently sensitive and specific for such use, and would tremendously assist members to identify suspect cases, adding that such positive cases could be subjected to confirmatory Molecular tests.
Babalola also appealed to members of the public not to conceal their true travel or exposure history in order not to endanger Private Practitioners.
He said all private practitioners nationwide observe universal precautions, meaning that all patients who attend any private facility nationwide are COVID 19 positive until proven otherwise.
“Patients are therefore expected to come to hospitals with their face masks, and to subject themselves to whatever screening protocols are put in place by the various private hospitals.
“These protocols may include a temperature check, compulsory hand washing before consultation, use of hand sanitizers and possibly temporary isolation,” Babalola said.
He said in previous meetings with the Ministry of Health, Private hospitals had stressed that they were in the front line of the battle against the COVID-19 epidemic.
Babalola said bordering on certain statements in the media, the GMD, which represented Private medical practitioners in the nation, found it expedient to make some clarifications.
He said the impression created that private practitioners would knowingly treat infected patients in their facilities for financial reward is erroneous.
“This is for the simple reason that Private hospitals account for not less than 70 per cent of consultations in the Nation. It is therefore inevitable that some patients with the disease will turn up in private hospitals.
“Unfortunately, many of them will be asymptomatic carriers of the disease. The instructions we have been given by the Ministry of Health is to refer such cases as soon as we identify them, or suspect them to be COVID 19 cases.
“This is all very well, and not contested by the Guild. But usually before a patient can be identified as a COVID 19 suspect, some interaction would inevitably have occurred with such patients, in the form of history taking and examination,” Babalola said.
He also said if a doctor, suspected that a patient might be a COVID 19 case, there was invariably a time lag between the time of suspicion and when NCDC officials arrived to take samples for confirmatory testing.
“This time lag varies from a few hours to never showing up at all, as we have experienced in several cases.
“After the samples are taken, the patients are to be kept in the private facility in a ‘safe isolation unit’, pending the time when the results would come back, usually not less than 48 hours.
“This present state of affairs exposes our members to grave dangers. This is compounded by the fact that some patients disguise their true travel history, in an attempt to avoid stigmatization,” Babalola said.
He said three of their members had died, saying that not because they necessarily wanted to treat COVID 19 patients as the impression may had been given, but because they inevitably came across the patients in the course of their duties.
Babalola said the impression that Private hospitals in Nigeria were keen to treat patients with COVID 19 infection, perhaps for monetary gain, must be dispelled.
“No doctor would knowingly expose himself to any contagious disease without appropriate Protective facilities. It is very unfair to the memory of our demised colleagues to suggest otherwise,” he said.