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Treating COVID-19 cases in private facilities worsening spread —NMA

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Managing COVID-19 cases at private hospitals has sparked reaction from the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos chapter. Worried about the increasing community spread of the infection in Nigeria, the Association has warned against treating suspected cases in private facilities.

The body said this could be one of the reasons behind the worsening community spread of the disease, which has already claimed 13 lives, according to the NCDC report, the latest being the death of the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari.

It would be recalled that a medical doctor in Lagos, Emeka Chugbo, was also reportedly killed by the virus, after contracting it from a patient he was treating in a private hospital.

In a statement signed by the Chairman, Saliu Oseni and Secretary, Moronkola Ramon, the Association said: “There is a disturbing trend in the private management of COVID-19 cases in private hospitals, where capacity for infection control and surveillance are limited.

“This action is likely to be the missing link to the worsening community transmission.

“The Association is concerned about a document from the State’s Health Facilities Accreditation and Management Agency (HEFAMAA), which among other things, plan to accredit private hospitals for the management of COVID 19.”

They noted that government might have begun to yield to the pressure from business concerns, which might see the pandemic as a business opportunity, rather than public health emergency.

Although the doctors acknowledged the expansion in the testing capacity in the state, which has helped identify more cases and potential contacts, they urged a scale-up in the house-to-house testing introduced by Lagos State government.

The NMA said based on its cautious observation, “there is basis for large-scale community-based antibody testing to confirm the plausible hypothesis that there is ongoing active transmission, but with mild cause of disease.

“This hypothesis, if confirmed, would shed light on the mode of transmission and the clinical categories of community dwellers, who have recovered from the infection. It may also guide the decision on and the mode of re-opening the city for the needed economic activities,” they pointed out.

The doctors equally applauded the expansion in the number of isolation centres, which they noted, has given more room to accommodate positive cases.

They, however, decried shortage in availability of Personal Protective Equipment for the frontline workers in public facilities, who might accidentally come in contact with suspected cases.

They raised concern over emergence of mild COVID-19 infection in Lagos, and indeed, in Nigeria.This, the doctors, attributed to the limited available data in the confirmed cases so far.

While warning against accrediting private facilities in the management of COVID-19 cases, they advised government to legislate and criminalise the act of resisting isolation by COVID-19 positive patients in public facilities.

They pointed out that such action has been implicated in jeopardising the efforts of containment. They urged that public isolation centres be made conducive for all classes of patients.


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