Health care providers in the private sector, under the aegis of the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria and the Guild of Medical Directors of Nigeria, have raised the alarm that the Federal Government is not carrying them along in the current war against the Ebola virus disease.
The two bodies, being controlled by private medical practitioners, stated this when they held a closed door meeting with the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, and other top officials of the ministry in Abuja, on Friday.
The AGPMPN was led to the parley by its President, Dr. Frank Odafe, while the GMDN team was led by its President, Dr. Tony Phillips.
They noted that their members had been at very high risks since the first case of the deadly disease occurred at the First Consultants Hospital, owned by a member of their association.
Odafe lamented that government had not fully embraced the private health care practitioners in the country, particularly when 60 per cent of the populace are being treated by their hospitals.
He said, “We are currently at the battle front in the Ebola emergency now but we are not fully equipped with the armoury of war in our entire endeavour. When the first set of the Personal Protective Equipment arrived, I made a call round the country, even in Lagos, but none of our members have a single one.
“You know most of these cases, some of them (patients), especially the primary and secondary contacts are shy to go to public hospitals. The private hospitals is the first port of call. Patients believe that in private hospitals, they get the compassionate care, a listening ear and their privacy would be maintained.
“Unfortunately, at the dawn of our current battle with Ebola, the private sector was not carried along. There is the need to equip us in terms of capacity building and make the armoury of war available to private practitioners because we are definitely at higher risks than government hospitals, which enjoys government subvention and budgetary allocation among other pets.
“As far as Ebola is concerned, our members all over the country are ready, willing and fully prepared to wage this war but then, self preservation is the first law but we need protection and equip our health personnel in the war.”
But Chukwu told the private medical practitioners that they do not need the PPE to attend to patients in their hospitals because the equipment are meant to be used at the Ebola isolation centres.
He said, “The Personal Protective Equipment that looks like what the astronauts wear in the moon, was not meant to be put on by medical practitioners in their hospitals but only at the isolation centres.”
He said what they need were, face mask; fresh pair of gloves for each patients; apron; and allow medical practitioners with the highest knowledge of the risk to handle disposal of hospital equipment.
“The PPE is a standard equipment and not part of universal precautionary measures” He added.
Chukwu, however, commended private medical practitioners for rising up to the challenge following the on-going national emergency in the health sector brought about by the unfortunate outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria.
He said the victims of the unfortunate development were mainly health workers in the private sector because the doctors in the government hospitals were on strike when the Liberian- American, Patrick Sawyer, imported the disease to the country.
He specifically singled out Dr. Ameyo Adedavoh, who, according to him, sacrificed her life to save her country.
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