After a careful analysis of the daily Ministry of Health’s (MOH) COVID-19 updates for the week of August 17, one needs no convincing that the Ministry of Health needs urgent nonpartisan private sector help in tackling this run-away-pandemic.
In our beloved TCI, concerns have heightened to uncontrollable levels, as we continue to observe the tremendous increase of positives cases. During the week of August 17, 2020 in the midst of daily double digit increases of COVID19 positives, we have seen a number of troubling signs such as:
1. The key MoH Lab Official was terminated, without any public explanation for his immediate dismissal. Many are suggesting this is cause for concern;
2. Private facilities were directed to stop administering covid19 tests due to the abrupt introduction of a new policy without wide consultation with the health industry.
3. The Police Force announcement of positive covid19 cases within the Force’s administration where several members were placed into quarantine.
4. The MoH temporarily shut its office in the epicenter of the virus- Provo, for deep cleaning because its own staff tested positive.
5. The public was advised that community spread continues.
6. Without any explanation we note a drastic and sudden increase of recoveries on the dashboard in the past 48 hours.
7. The MoH ran out of COVID19 Tests supplies; the Minister was warned about this happening, when my article scrutinized the donation of 10,000 of our country’s much needed Covid19 test kits given to the Bahamas. I had specifically asked for an inventory check of test kits on hand and had questioned whether we were giving away supplies that we ourselves needed in order to increase our on-island testing capacity. To date, the only answer received from the Minister of Health in that regard, is still in question, as the amount he stated had been given to the Bahamas was extremely lower than the amount officials in the Bahamas declared they received from our Government.
8. The MOH Covid19 dashboard continues to show it is not adhering to key established guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) which is “to test and isolate all confirmed cases, even mild cases in health facilities, to prevent transmission and provide adequate care”.
So my question to the Minister of Health and the MoH Officials, is why are we not isolating all COVID19 positives in a facility? This is a crucial part of WHO’s recommendation that seems to be falling on deaf ears in the TCI and clearly is one of the main reasons contributing to the rise of this dreadful disease within our communities. If we are to tackle the fight of COVID19 head on, this government must be seen as one that is spending the people’s funds on the necessary facilities and systems to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our people.
A PROPOSED SOLUTION
I am recommending the MoH immediately establish a Nonpartisan Covid19 Medical Council (CMC) made up of Physicians and Health Care Professionals from both the Private and Public Sector. The CMC should be tasked with effectively monitoring and responding to the covid-19 pandemic in the TCI. The CMC responsibilities should also involve a range of efforts relating to the diagnosis, response, and treatment of COVID-19 and supporting solutions to bring an end to this crisis.
The MoH must remember, that this pandemic is far from nearing an end. As there are various other aspects they will need a pool of resourceful professionals within the industry to lean on in the coming months, with regard to new tests for COVID-19, new therapeutics, and the long awaited vaccines which may soon be available.
Covid19 is EVERYBODY’S business and if we are to combat this pandemic, the government must find a way to enlist as much of our own local expertise to overcome the widespread effects of this illness and save the health and overall well-being of our nation’s populace.
The CMC will allow for a wider Action-Tank to provide swift and rapid suggestions including a way forward for facility isolation of COVID19 positive patients. Whilst I welcome this week’s MOH most notable adjustment of the dashboard role reflecting cases by island, it is evident that this fight cannot be undertaken by them alone. The hope is that the CMC will greatly assist MOH as the challenge to combat COVID19 continues to evolve. We are all in this fight together and must remember that the health of our nation is the wealth of our nation.
We can only emerge stronger from this emergency by working together. It is my sound advice that the MoH should establish our own Covid19 Medical Council and should do so now.
Mark A Fulford