President, Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria, Dr Iyke Odo, has called on the Nigerian government over the Coronavirus pandemic to leverage the presence of medical doctors in the private sector, rather than waiting for infectious disease specialists, which could lead to the death of 99 per cent of these patients.
In an exclusive interview with Pharmanews, the AGPMPN president said it was wrong for government to sideline them in the treatment of the COVID-19 patients, noting that six out of 10 COVID-19 patients are likely to first visit a private hospital to complain about headache, fever.
He said, government at both local and federal levels need to recognise that private doctors are the main fighter and not some infectious disease specialist they are expecting to come from diaspora.
He frown at the present situation as the federal government keeps giving them the impression that they have nothing to do with these cases whereas, they have more to do with it as whoever has any primary symptoms of COVID- 19 goes to the private hospital first.
In response to the question on how they know if a patient is a carrier of the virus, unlike the government hospitals, Odo, said without test confirmation, it is not possible to know, not even a professor from John Hopkins hospital would know precisely no matter how much the symptoms we have been reading about are expressed.
“Whether the person has fever, headache, body pain, coughing, breathing fast, it must not be COVID-19 because this same symptoms have always been there, someone who has asthma, proctitis, tuberculosis will be breathing fast, one can only suspect COVID, and until you do the test no one no matter how trained can confirm COVID-19 infection. That is why we are saying government should stop dividing their house.
“The government are saying they have not recognised the private doctors to treat COVID- 19 patients, we are not agitating to just start treating the patients, but we are saying those of us who have the training, infrastructure should be accredited and therefore permitted to treat.
“It is not good enough that the private doctors are not allowed to be part of this scheme, all what the government needs to do is just two days seminar to train the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, because they are already professionals, they are licensed already,” he added.
He said: “There is nothing special about the doctors, nurses, pharmacists treating COVID-19 patients in the isolation centres except the few infectious disease specialists and they are very few.
“As we speak, no one knows the next COVID-19 patient that will die because some body may have it and show no symptoms. No headache, fever, cough, catarrh or even shortness of breath. That diabetic, hypertensive patient who comes to you innocently and you discussed with him, having nothing on your mind but unknown to you he has COVID, it takes only one seconds to contract this virus.
“The federal government should know that we are everything to this battle, and they should plan for everybody, the government of Ghana, Botswana, Rwanda are providing trainings to their private hospitals”.
Odo said, it is rather unfortunate that the government are not giving the private hospitals the needed support in the management of the virus, he added that healthcare is predominantly a concern for public and private sectors and you cannot successfully separate them, the federal government can’t do it alone.