Doctors facing financial crisis as patients avoid medical care out of fear of catching virus


Many physicians are facing a financial crisis due to patients reportedly avoiding crucial medical services out of fear of contracting Covid-19 according to the National HealthCare Group, Highway Mail reported

National HealthCare Group is an organisation which seeks to increase the access of the poor to medical services.

"Covid-19 is not a slow-burner pandemic like HIV. The acute, and in some cases chillingly abrupt, decline of patients has put extreme pressure on the frontlines of healthcare.

"While frightening other patients away from tending to their basic and routine primary healthcare needs," explained National HealthCare Group executive chairman Dr Reinder Nauta.

Nauta said if patients neglect their chronic health conditions it could lead to more severe complications of Covid-19.

He added that it was important for people to visit their doctors so that early signs of substance abuse and mental health issues were not overlooked.

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"Doctors empower their patients to address unhealthy lifestyle habits early to prevent the development of more serious health problems in years to come. We, therefore, have to find ways of making healthcare more accessible to reach more lives," he said.

Nauta further said that doctors were calling for a need for sustainable income from patients.

"We need creative models for funding private primary healthcare to fulfil these needs.

"The Health Professions Council of South Africa's decision to allow phone or video consultations with doctors and other practitioners during the Covid-19 crisis afforded the opportunity to introduce another low-cost service to enhance accessibility through an innovative WhatsApp-based primary healthcare service," he continued to say.

Meanwhile, although the rate of the Covid-19 infections were decreasing, Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize warned South Africans that the country was not ready to open all sectors immediately.

Speaking on SABC's Morning Live show, Mkhize said the infection rate might be decreasing in South Africa, however, the numbers were still rising globally.

"The numbers are reducing. We are not over the worst yet, we are worrying about the resurgence. Globally we are now at number seven and this tells two things: that the numbers are declining in South Africa, but globally the numbers are still increasing.

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"We are not ready to open everything immediately. We are moving in that direction, the economy does need to be opened, however we will ease into the decrease in restrictions.

"We refined the testing strategy during the peak to testing of those with symptoms, co-morbidities, contacts, those in hospital etc. Those numbers of people have decreased," he said.

On excess deaths, the minister said not all deaths were all Covid-19 deaths, while unnatural deaths were on the rise.

"When our numbers were very high, the number of excess deaths were also high, we are tracking these excess deaths. Unnatural deaths during lockdown reduced drastically. We are seeing those increase now again.

"There are a number of issues still to be looked at, such as immunity, studies on the climate and Covid-19 surviving in saliva and demographics. There is research being done on all of this, but it's still early to confirm what is being said," he added.

This article first appeared on Highway Mail and was republished with permission.

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