Nothing stops private hospitals from testing for COVID-19 – PAHO/WHO

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Country representative for the Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) in Guyana, Dr William Adu-Krow says there is nothing preventing private hospitals from testing for the new Coronavirus Disease.

In an interview with the News Room, Dr Adu-Krow said the organisation does not donate equipment to private institutions but it is the hospitals’ decision if it wants to acquire the necessary equipment for testing.

“To the best of my knowledge, no private entity has been prevented from doing testing, if they have the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine and they have the primers and the probes that are used to test, they are at liberty to test,” he said.

“I think it is a good thing if private entities now get on board and do testing.”

It was the PAHO/WHO which brought its Virologist to Guyana earlier this year to prepare the National Public Health Reference laboratory and train staff to conduct testing for the COVID-19 disease.

PAHO/WHO Country Rep in Guyana, Dr William Adu-Krow [Photo: News Room]
Dr Adu-Krow said the agency is open to helping the private institutions get the approval needed to ensure their tests are accurate.

Although the Virologist will not be able to travel to Guyana with the closure of airports, he said the National Reference lab can assist via video calling.

“My only caviar is that there must be some quality assurance so there will be no false positive or false negative,” the health official said.

Some private hospitals and laboratories have expressed concern about not being allowed to test for COVID-19.

But Dr. Adu-Krow said contrary to complaints, some private establishments do not want their facilities to be contaminated as they believe less patients will visit their business.

“There are some [private hospitals] that still do not write proper referral letters for patients that they see that may be COVID-19 [positive] to go GPHC, they just ask them to take a taxi and go,” the PAHO/WHO rep said.

The Ministry of Public Health on Tuesday said it is currently working on public-private partnerships with private hospitals which can see them testing for the disease soon.

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

Woodlands Hospital Limited on its Facebook page has stated that it petitioned the Ministry of Public Health to allow the facility to procure validated testing kits to assist with testing for COVID-19 but no one responded to them.

The Hospital however, said it does not have the capacity to adequately isolate and treat COVID-19 patients. As such, it has asked patients who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19; a sore throat, fever, or shortness of breath or have history of contact with persons who confirmed cases to call the Ministry of Public Health’s Hotline numbers.

Dr. Adu-Krow said so far, the Ministry of Public Health’s response to the situation has been “good.”

With the emergency measures in place, he believes that the Ministry has time to improve its facilities and other protocols to fight the disease.

“My fear is that if we have this rapid rise and the system is not robust enough to withstand that and I’m hoping that the measures like the curfew and good social responsibility and personal responsibility that we take will help us to flatten the curve so we don’t have to go to that level and be overwhelmed,” he noted.

Guyana as of April 08, onfirmed 37 cases of the COVID-19 and six deaths.

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