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Private hospitals once again ask Sindh govt ‘not to infect’ all Karachi hospitals with coronavirus

By M. Waqar Bhatti
April 10, 2020

Expressing strong reservations over the Sindh government’s directives to reserve 20 per cent of beds at private hospitals for coronavirus patients, the Private Hospitals and Clinics Association (PHCA) urged the health department on Thursday “not to infect” all private hospitals in Karachi and instead admit coronavirus patients to the Indus Hospital, the Ojha Campus of the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) and the field isolation centre established at the Expo Centre.

“Today, at a meeting with the Sindh health minister, private hospitals’ owners have suggested that instead of asking all the private hospitals to allocate 20 per cent of their beds for the isolation and treatment of coronavirus patients, the government should send these patients to three hospitals which are already infected with coronavirus,” an office-bearer of the association told The News.

Representatives of private hospitals’ owners, including Dr Salman Faridi of Liaquat National Hospital, Dr Asim Hussain of Dr Ziauddin Hospital, Dr Abdul Bari of the Indus Hospital, Dr Sadia Rizvi of the South City Hosptal and Dr Zerkais Ankelsaria, met with provincial health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho and Dr Aijaz Ahmed Khanzada, chief technical adviser to the health secretary, and advised the authorities to first utilise 2,200 beds at three hospitals as well as the Expo Centre’s isolation centre and then seek assistance from the private health sector.

During the meeting, the private hospitals’ owners strongly objected to the fact that President PHCA Dr Junaid Ali Shah was not notified about the meeting, the office-bearer of the association said, adding that the health minister conceded that it was a mistake and agreed to make her part of the Private Hospitals’ Core Committee.

The owners reiterated that there are already 1,000 beds available at the field isolation centre at the Expo Centre Karachi for coronavirrus patients, while hospitals which were already treating patients, including the Ojha Campus of the Dow varsity, the AKUH and the Indus Hospital, could also accommodate around 1,200 patients as they were receiving huge financial support from the government. It was suggested that all hospitals should not be infected and should be left for patients of other ailments who were in need of urgent healthcare.

“Once those 2,200 beds at the Indus Hospital, Dow International, AKU and the field isolation centre are filled, then we will give a list of hospitals in priority to be made corona hospitals on the condition that these hospitals will be provided with the necessary safety equipment and medicines by the Sindh government,” the PHCA office-bearer added.

Private hospitals’ owners also suggested that the government should utilise several of its own hospitals, including a newly constructed 500-bed facility as well as several hospitals of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), for coronavirus patients and leave the private hospitals for general patients.

During the meeting, it was further decided that a command and control centre would be established by the government under the command of focal person of coronavirus, Dr Bari, and the private hospitals would provide consultants in special fields who would be available to the command and control centre.

“It was decided that this core committee would meet regularly and Dr Abdul Bari would update the committee on the coronavirus situation with statistics.” The private hospitals’ owners said they assured the health department that they would provide both equipment and manpower support as needed once the Sindh government faced a shortage of beds. “The health minister assured us of the fullest cooperation and we stand with the government of Sindh in its strategies and endeavours,” the PHCA office-bearer said.

It was decided that a portal in the health department would be created by coronavirus focal person Dr Abdul Bari and a complete government handbook of COVID-19 Prevention & Treatment would be prepared in three areas – prevention and control management, diagnosis and treatment, and nursing & consulting services.