The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday said it had decided to withdraw from the Health Ministry’s technical committees, if a system for GPS mapping of COVID-19 data is not implemented within the week.
According to GMOA Editor Dr. Haritha Aluthge, the association has been pushing for the implementation of GPS mapping and discussed the proposal with the Director General of Health Services on Tuesday.
While the GMOA is expected to meet the Director General of Health Services today as well, Dr. Aluthge said, “The executive committee discussed this on Tuesday and decided that if this process is not implemented, there is no point in contributing to the technical unit anymore.”
He added, “The GMOA has thus decided to withdraw as active contributors of the Health Ministry’s technical committees if we do not receive a proper response from the health sector.”
A final decision on the matter will be taken next week.
The GMOA Editor explained that GPS mapping was crucial to the decision-making process as it presents data on patients identified from various parts of the island. “We are not suggesting this to simply look at a map, but to look at the map and make decisions for the country. There is a lot that a map tells us,” he explained.
The map would provide information on high-risk areas and decisions, for instance isolation, that should be made. He added that the map should be updated daily and that the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of the COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) can present important information to the public via the map.
He also raised concerns about PCR testing, especially the capacity and alternatives like the rapid antigen test. “The other problem is delays. Even now, there is a certain stagnation in reports from samples already collected. We get calls from some areas saying there are delays of four to five days,” he said.
The GMOA Editor suggested that a mechanism should be implemented to issue results within 24 hours, explaining that results issued within 48 hours could be considered delayed results and those issued beyond that can be considered outdated results.
In addition to Dr. Aluthge’s remarks, the GMOA yesterday published a letter addressed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, outlining the GMOA’s suggestions to control and mitigate the current COVID-19 outbreak.
In terms of PCR testing, the GMOA highlighted the necessity to monitor capacity, capability and efficiency of PCR testing, as it was the basis of public health decision making. The association explained, “We recently observed that a leading private hospital in Colombo managed to achieve a daily PCR capacity of 2,000 tests, with only two functioning PCR machines, within a very short period of time.” They went on to add that it was disappointing that the Health Ministry was yet to achieve the daily minimum PCR requirement, despite 20 allocated PCR testing centres.
The GMOA’s recommended daily testing capacity was 10,000 tests, with a buffer capacity of over 100,000.
The suggestions also included the implementation of border crossing governance, accurate, timely and effective zonal lockdown or restrictions and transparent ‘lock-out’ parameters that are communicated in a proper manner to build public confidence, public contribution and accountability.
Source : Daily FT