Private hospitals want to be involved in emergency ambulance services

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 Private hospital owners have called on the Federal Government to involve them in the National Emergency Medical Service & Ambulance System (NEMSAS).

 The Guild of Medical Directors and Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMP) made this call during a courtesy visit on Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on Friday in Abuja

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the National Council on Health (NCH) has approved the establishment of NEMSAS.

Prof. Femi Dokun-Babalola, President, Guild of Medical Directors, who lead the group, said it was important to carry the Private sector along.

According to him, about 70 per cent of all consultations and emergencies do occur in that sphere.

“Hitherto, the experience of our members in the handling of emergencies had been less than savory.

”Doctors sometimes get harassed and even arrested for attending to bullet wound emergencies.

”Patients refuse to pay after being attended to and patients are rejected for various flimsy reasons even when they get referred to tertiary institutions,” he said.

Dokubo-Babalola said it was instructive to note that many contractors in Nigeria today were owed a lot of money for lengthy periods of time even after verifiably completing the assigned projects.

“Our experience with Health Management Organisations and the NHIS has not been very palatable in this regard and it’s a subject of continuous concern.

”A mutually agreed tariff system of payment for services rendered to emergencies that do present in private hospitals.

“For those who invest in ambulances, payment of a basic periodic maintenance cost in situations where the ambulance is either not utilised  or is under-utilised,” he said.

According to him, at the moment, there are about 20 privately owned ambulances available for use in the scheme within the FCT.

He said, however, that there were many of their members ready to invest or make their ambulances available provided those aforementioned guarantees were in place.

Dokun-Babalola said that the representation of the private sector in the NCH should not just be by invitation but should be statutory.

“If 70 per cent of the health care in our country takes place in the private sector, it suggests that the NHC needs to be expanded to take care of this demographic,” he said.  

Speaking on the Coronavirus (COVID-19), he said much more could be done to involve private sector, especially in terms of kitting out and supporting  private hospitals to deal with the pandemic.

“The virus does not make a distinction between private doctors and public doctors.

”Many of the health personnel, who have sadly succumbed to the pandemic have come from the private sector.

“This includes our very own Prof. Lovett Lawson of the Zankli hospital.

”May their gentle souls rest in peace,” he said.

In his response, Ehanire said  that what they all had in common was a component of the health sector.

The minister said that he had seen medicines from all works of lives and he could give his opinion in many things.

“The  health sector is in trouble and we should  all agree on that.

”We are also fortunate to be working with someone, who wants to see things move and that is President Muhammadu Buhari, who promised to bring changes  in the country.

”Personally, I believe that nation building is not just building bridges and roads and things but building people.

”And that is human capital development and the quality of human capital development is health sector and that is why ministers are charged to do what they can for human capital development.

”The agreement that was reached for 15 per cent Abuja Declaration to the health sector was very difficult to fulfilled for practical reasons and if you ask they will tell you Nigeria has deficits everywhere,” he said.

Ehanire said that the country made money from oil, but had deficits, adding that there were infrastructural deficits everywhere.

“We have a lot to catch up with, roads, railways and shipping lines,” he said.

Ehanire said that Nigeria was in the process of rebuilding and that was what the President Buhari lead administration was doing, adding that the rebuilding came at a difficult time.

“Oil price is low, to make matters worse, COVID-19 has hit the country in a way that it had crumbled everything. But in the middle of all that the country must still move on.

“It is true that the pandemic offers an opportunity to research many things and we are re-stating the health sector in its own way and also creating new things,” he said.

Ehainre said health sector in Nigeria was primary, secondary and tertiary health-care facilities, but what it did not have was an emergency medical service that connects all the facilities.

“We lacked a patients transports systems that connect all of these together. Nigeria is the third country in Africa to build an emergency medical service and ambulance systems.

“The unique thing about it is that, it is a service where the patients is actually the one begging you to come and help him.

”In routine service, the patients do not come till last minute, unless it is an emergency. There are primary healthcare centres, they do not go there. The  demand is low.

“But in an emergency services, that is where you know a country that is looking after its citizens and give the citizens help when he wants it, when he needs it most.

”That is what NEMSAS is all about here,” he said. (NAN)

– Aug. 22, 2020 @ 14:54 GMT |

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