Ms. Megha Chaudhary
Managing Director, Norvic International Hospital
To understand the impact of COVID-19 on the health sector, particularly on hospitals, NEF sought perspective from Megha Chaudhary, Managing Director, Norvic International Hospital and prepared a brief excerpt as follows.
Impact of Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown on hospitals in Nepal:
The COVID crisis affecting the world today requires a level of response that goes beyond the capacity of any country. The Government of Nepal is putting in place a series of measures to address the situation, but more needs to be done, and international solidarity is required to ensure that the country is fully prepared to face the pandemic and address its impact in all sectors.
Hospitals are experiencing a reduction of in-person hospital visits due to lockdown and fear of COVID-19 transmission. But the major factor affecting us is the halt on elective procedures and surgeries because of the government’s instructions and lack of PCR testing facilities. Surgeries have been reduced by approximately 90 % nationwide.
Hospital’s revenue from elective procedures and surgeries are usually higher than revenue from the emergency rooms services, so the financial impact has another long term factor disabling the hospitals for new investments in new technologies in the health care sector.
Due to prolonged lockdown, availability of necessary consumables and accessories is another major issue which has to be imported from 3rd country.
As private hospitals contribute nearly 2% of national GDP, there is a great impact because of this pandemic.
As this pandemic has exposed the challenges to the health sector globally, steps that could be taken in Nepal to improve preparedness in the future:
- Coordination, Planning and monitoring. Establishing an incident management team including rapid deployment of designated staff from national and partner organizations, within relevant Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs).
- Preparedness and response planning to operationalize the strategic preparedness and response plan at country level;
- Conduct regular operational reviews to assess implementation success and epidemiological situation and adjust operational plans as necessary.
- Raising awareness and disseminating technical guidance (in all levels)
- Business continuity planning for existing humanitarian action.
Ways private hospitals in Nepal can provide support to the government as the lockdown eases:
- Private and public hospital systems should have a joint-partnership to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Such partnership can give us the capacity to respond to COVID-19 now, and the ability to preserve our hospital network for our nation’s health once we emerge from the crisis.
- Accommodation for quarantine and isolation cases where necessary, and safety procedures and training in different places.
- Availability to address the large surgical backlog that will need to be addressed when the pandemic is over.
- Sharing of available healthcare resources like ICU Beds, Ventilators, Monitors etc.
The new world post COVID-19 will be different- some things that hospitals could do to get back to their daily operations ensuring safety for all
- Testing and caring for patients with confirmed or suspected infection and keeping the staff safe.
- Practising specific WHO/Government guidelines regarding preventive measures against COVID-19 infection spread.
- Digital Health System and Artificial Intelligence application in the healthcare sector
- Devices like digital stethoscopes, portable ECG monitors and digital otoscopes can be used at home and the results can be shared remotely with doctors.
As Nepal does not have state supported health programs nor wide coverage of health insurances, steps that the health sector stakeholders (Govt, Hospitals, Insurance Cos, Banks) could take to roll out the health sector reform program
- A nationwide survey needs to be conducted and the vulnerable population need to be identified (children, elderly, immunocompromised, differently abled etc.)
- Developing Health Insurance Program addressing equitable access with a view to improving health outcomes.
- Maximum number of patients and people need to be enrolled into the health insurance program at the initiative of the government.
- Policy needs to be made by the government regarding subsidies and fast tracking of the process involving all stakeholders like Private Hospitals, Public Hospital, Insurance Companies etc.
The above Expert Speak edition is written by Ms. Megha Chaudhary. She is the Managing Director of Norvic International Hospital.
Thumbnail picture source: https://www.scoop.it/topic/indhospitalsolution/?&tag=health+care+budgeting