Health Ministry urges private physicians to quit lagging and share Covid information

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By Orville Williams

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The Ministry of Health is urging private physicians who are doing Covid-19 testing to report that information to the Ministry, as part of their occupational duty and role in arresting the spread of the virus.

Covid testing was centralised by the Health Ministry at the start of the pandemic, but the rising demand for tests – both for verification of illness and for outbound travel – pushed the Ministry to allow testing to be done at the private level.

A few weeks ago, both health and government officials called for an improvement in the situation, where only a portion of the physicians were fulfilling their obligations by sending the data to the Health Ministry.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rhonda Sealy-Thomas told a media briefing yesterday that there has been no noticeable improvement in this regard and advised her private sector colleagues to step up and do the right thing.

“Us requiring them to do it is not just us requiring it, it is the law. According to the Public Health Act, if it is that they do find a positive case, they are mandated to report that to the Ministry of Health.

“There are some private physicians who are very good at it…[they] religiously report the persons who they have found positive, completely and in a timely manner, and there are others who have not.

“I can’t really say that there’s been an improvement, [but] I urge those who have not been reporting to please do so [because] we certainly don’t want to have to charge anyone. Those who have been doing it in a timely manner, continue to do so,” she said.

The private physicians were also urged to refer or disclose information on patients who may have symptoms of the virus to the Health Ministry, instead of attempting to ‘treat’ these persons on their own.

The CMO’s comments were seconded by Dr Lester Simon, head of the laboratory at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center (SLBMC), who issued a cryptic warning to those doctors who are failing to follow the rules.

“I think it’s important to tell some doctors out there – and I say this as a member of the disciplinary committee – to not lead themselves into temptation. [They should] deliver themselves from whatever evil they may see, as far as certain things are concerned, because their kingdom will not come.

“We are watching them. We know who they are and they’re rogue doctors out there. Stop it.”

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