Private health facility exploits Covid-19 patients, charging $100 for 24 hours

A number of close relatives of Covid-19 patients along with some local residents in Herat told Kabul Now that a private hospital charges Covid-19 patients USD 100 per 24 hours in return for health service.

As the pandemic coronavirus continued to spread in Kabul the Afghan government announced that only authorized health facilities are allowed to receive Covid-19 patients. Nearly a month ago, the Afghan health ministry of public closed Amiri Medical Complex in Kabul on charges of illegal health services for Covid-19 patients. Later on, former health minister, Ferozuddin Feroz, said that no private hospital was allowed to provide health services for Covid-19 patients in Afghanistan.

Local authorities in Herat have confirmed that the private hospital is providing medical services for Covid-19 patients in the province. The public health department have not investigated Covid-19 related operation of the private hospital but Mohammad Rafiq Sherzai, spokesperson of the department, says that a medical team would evaluate performance of the hospital soon.

The private hospital which provides general medical services for patients of infectious disease, is located near Herat’s police department and in a residential area—triggering complains of the locals who feel it will expose them more to the disease—in Herat city.

“Patients of the corona (Covid-19) were secretly treated in this infectious disease hospital but they have started admitting corona patients publicly since last six days. One or two dead bodies are taken out of the infectious disease hospital every night,” said Haji Sultan, a local resident. He urged the government officials to close the hospital as quick as possible.  

Mohammad Faisal, a local resident, says that he has already filed an official complaint about operation of the private hospital but local authorities are hesitant to address his concern.

Spokesperson for Herat’s public health department, Mohammad Rafiq Sherzai, confirmed that the private hospital would conduct “antibody testing” for those who were infected by the virus and patients who were tested positive for the Covid-19 were taken to Herat Covid-19 medical centers.

But local health authorities say that only those medical centers which have PCR testing machines can do proper and accurate testing.

Mr. Sherzai confirmed that one of the hospital’s shareholder is a senior official of Herat’s main Covid-19 hospital.

Officials of the private hospital, however, rejected to comment on issue.

Lack of equipment in Herat’s Covid-19 treatment center

Following the capital Kabul, Herat is the second hardest hit province in Afghanistan. With 177 new positive cases confirmed today, May 30, a total of 2,461 people have tested positive for the coronavirus pandemic in the western Herat province. 51 people, who were infected by the virus, have died in the province. Hospitals authorized to do covid-19 tests are not sufficiently equipped with testing kits and equipment needed for Covid-19 diagnosis and treatment.

According to the province governor, Sayed Abdul Wahid Qatali, with the current capacity of Herat’s corona testing labs, it will take 27 years for all residents of the province to get tested.

As per the accounts of Abdul Hakim Tammanna, head of Herat’s public health department, all beds of the main covid-19 hospital, Sheydayi hospital, are occupied by patients. He added that nearly 250 patients, who are in critical health conditions, are hospitalized in Covid-19 treatment centers and most of those who have tested positive for the disease stay in home-isolation.

Relatives of Covid-19 patients are accusing authorities of Herat Covid-19 treatment center of rejecting to accept their patients.

“My cousin has diabetes, blood pressure, and sever fever. We took him to Sheydayi hospital but they did not hospitalize him,” said Feraidoon, relative of a covid-19 patients who is 55 years old. He added that his cousin is currently under home-care.

Atta Jan got infected by the coronavirus when he was regularly visiting one of his relatives hospitalized at Herat’s covid-19 hospital. He is complaining that there is not sufficient equipment and specialized doctors at the hospital. “The hygiene service is very poor at Sheydayi hospital and there is no specialized staff,” he added.

Mr. Jan complained that mobile health teams—medical teams which are officially assigned to regularly check on home-isolated patients—have not visited him for a long time. “My result came out positive 12 days ago. The health authorities just called me and told that your test result is positive. They have not asked about more symptoms and my health condition,” the patient complains.

Herat health authorities, however, say that they have increased the number of mobile team to 20 for tracing and taking samples from suspicious people infected by the virus in the province.

Though Herat’s 100-bed specialized hospital was hurriedly built within 21 days, the hospital is not equipped yet and remains nonoperational.

Spokesperson for the province health department, Mr. Sherzai, said that it was almost ready and would b operational soon. “Beds and other equipment are prepared at the hospital. The X-ray machines and ventilators are to be installed,” he added.

Head of the health department, meanwhile, warned of a grave consequences of public carelessness. “If the people continue to remain careless against the coronavirus, a human catastrophe will hit Herat,” he warned.