Following pressure, Health Ministry now seeking to involve private hospitals in COVID-19 fight

Blood sample with respiratory coronavirus positive
Blood sample with respiratory coronavirus positive

After facing some amount of pressure and criticisms from various stakeholders, caretaker Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence, has indicated that the Ministry will now allow private hospitals in Guyana to begin testing for the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to Lawrence, the Public Health Ministry is currently working on Public-Private partnerships with private hospitals and has already initiated the process.

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Shamedo Persaud was given the task of contacting the private hospitals to discuss testing and their readiness to deal with COVID-19.

“We recognise and we know that there are many Guyanese who usually seek care at private health facilities. We want to ensure that we can work with these private entities to ensure that they can provide these services,” Lawrence said.

Caretaker Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence

Further, she said that it is not the view of the Ministry of Public Health that only GPHC should be testing for the novel coronavirus, however, she explained that the Ministry is working with initial guidelines set by PAHO/WHO.

Additionally, Lawrence revealed that only polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is proven effective at testing COVID-19 and that any facility that wishes to begin testing must be able to conduct this type of test.

Lawrence said if necessary, the Ministry of Public Health will share test kits with private hospitals and help them set up dedicated coronavirus Intensive Care Units.

Former shadow Public Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, a few days ago, had called on the Government to tap into the resources of the private health sector to boost its testing capacity for COVID-19.

Shadow Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

Dr Anthony is one of the key stakeholders in the National COVID-19 Response Forum that was established by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to aid in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Dr Anthony had explained that many of the private hospitals and laboratories in Guyana have the human capacity as well as the equipment readily available, as such, they just need to get the supplies in order to conduct tests for COVID-19 themselves.

According to Dr Anthony, currently, if any of these private health institutions need a test conducted then they first have to seek permission from the Public Health Ministry, and some of these requests have been denied.

Dr Anthony had stressed that these private hospitals must be able to get testing for the deadly virus done immediately since delays with this can endanger the lives of not just the patients, but the medical professionals as well.

According to Dr Anthony, in both the public and private health sectors, people are not getting access to COVID-19 testing readily.