Former BDU president says there aren’t enough doctors to deal with COVID-19

Former Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) President Mucomba Millar said yesterday that he doesn’t believe there are sufficient physicians in the country to handle an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

“I don’t think we have enough medical staff altogether,” he said.

“In the public system, we have a little less than 500 physicians.

“There are a lot of areas in which physicians in the Rand, they’re on call every other day.

“And they’ve been doing this for years. So, when we hear statistics from unknown persons in the Ministry of Health saying we have enough physicians to cover The Bahamas, that is very concerning to me.”

Millar said based on international standards, there are far fewer doctors in The Bahamas than there should be. He said he believes the concern isn’t taken seriously because of the physicians’ dedication to their jobs.

“I think that the ministry does take us for granted because they know the dedication the physicians in this country have to our profession,” he said.

“So, they know that no matter what, we will be there, even if we are in adverse standing with the government from a labor point of view.

“[W]hen it comes to the health of the country, we will definitely stand with our countrymen.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on Wednesday.

The virus, which can cause pneumonia, originated in Wuhan, China, late last year.

Since then, it has spread to all continents except Antarctica, with major outbreaks in China, South Korea, Iran and Italy.

As of yesterday, there were nearly 140,000 cases of the virus across the globe. Over 5,000 people have died, with the majority of deaths in mainland China.

The virus has been spreading throughout the United States, where there were over 1,700 confirmed cases and 41 deaths.

Millar said that while he is concerned by the lack of screening of people entering The Bahamas, the country’s small population and economic reliance on tourism makes it near impossible to do.

“The screening process, that’s a particular bit of concern,” he said.

“But from a logistical standpoint, I understand why it would be extremely difficult in our setting.”

However, Millar noted that he is not extremely worried about the coronavirus.

“If you look at the statistics now, 2,400 persons die a day of TB (tuberculosis),” he said.

“[A]nd 2,100 persons a day die of HIV. Fifty persons a day die of coronavirus. Not to minimize those losses, because 50 persons lost is tragic. But at least we can see coronavirus coming.”

He added, “So, it’s interesting for us. It’s alarming. Of course, we’re keeping abreast of it knowing what to do for our patients and ourselves and our families to keep ourselves and our families safe.

“But we’re not as alarmed as the general public is.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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