NATIONAL NEWS - THE Covid-19 pandemic had created a duel crisis for the South African healthcare system.
According to the National HealthCare Group many patients, afraid of catching the potentially deadly virus, are avoiding crucial medical services, which is in turn resulting in a financial crisis for physicians.
“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 Dr Reinder Nauta, executive chairman of National HealthCare Group, an organisation which seeks to increase the access of the poor to medical services.
According to Nauta, if patients neglect their chronic health conditions it could lead to more severe complications of Covid-19.
What’s more, she said when patients avoid medical services they might skip out on family planning or life-saving screenings for deadly diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
At a time when depression is at an all time high, Nauta said it was important for people to visit their doctors so that early signs of substance abuse and mental health issues are not overlooked.
“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.”
Which is why Nauta emphasised that South Africa could not afford to lose a single doctor.
“Our people need doctors, and evidently many of our GPs are in crying need of a sustainable income from patients too. 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 added.