Private hospitals can help boost testing for COVID-19, says Dr Anthony

Former shadow Public Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

Former shadow Public Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony is calling for Government to tap into the resources of the private health sector to boost its testing capacity for COVID-19.

“We need the Private Sector to come on board and they need the Ministry to allow them – giving them the permission to go ahead so that they can add to the testing capacity of the country,” he posited.

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.

The Ministry had recently stated that efforts were being made to have the necessary lab equipment available in order to increase the number of tests being done.

However, Dr Anthony explained that many of the private hospitals and laboratories here 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.

He added that the private health institutions do not readily have access to COVID-19 test kits.

Dr Anthony 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.

“So that’s another bottleneck… either they have to send the patient to testing site at the Georgetown Public Hospital or if that person is hospitalised then they need to get permission from the Ministry to get a test kit, that is, a swab to collect samples from the patients,” he noted.

But even this process has more bureaucracies, the former shadow Health Minister stated. He revealed that when samples, even those from public hospitals, are sent to the State lab for testing, then a request first has to be made to the Public Health Minister’s office and only when permission is granted then the test is conducted.

Already, controversy has been raised over the fact that the results of all COVID-19 tests first goes to caretaker Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence before anyone else, including the doctors who requested the tests.

To end this, Dr Anthony asserted that the private institutions have to face more bureaucracies.

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