Muscat: The Ministry of Health’s Primary Health Care institutions are the first treatment line in the Sultanate and the key for all levels of health care (secondary and tertiary), along with linking society and health service providers. The Ministry has committed to put the primary health care attop priority forward reaching the goal of health for all, stipulated in the World Health OrganizationConstitution.
“The Ministry’s primary health care institutions throughout the various governorates of the Sultanate provide many preventive, treatment and rehabilitative services, as PHC gathers both the health care seekers and service providers,” Dr Badria Mohsen Al-Rashidi, Director of the Health Care Services Support at MOH indicated.
“With the emergence of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) epidemic, the Ministry has taken several precautionary measures, including working in border outlets and airports to assess arrivals in the Sultanate and identify groups that need home or institutional quarantine or transfer some critical cases to intensive care in hospitals,” Dr Badria added.
After identifying people who need home or institutional quarantine, the patients are followed up with phone calls to check on their health condition or request their attendance if necessary.
It is primary health care institutions that categorize the cases with symptoms of fever and cold, or those with similar symptoms of COVID-19 disease, performing the necessary examinations for suspected cases. Accordingly they determine whether positive results should be under home quarantine or hospitalized if necessary.
The health services in all PHC institutions currently have been limited to cover only emergency cases, colds and expanded immunization of children, while Maternity clinic visits are restricted to only four. As for patients with chronic diseases, Dr Badria explained that phone numbers were set to request from pharmacy personnel an advance preparation of patient’s monthly medications without waiting for the doctor’s visit.
On the significance of the social distancing, Dr Badria called on all primary health care institutions in the Sultanate’s various governorates to apply this principle to reduce the number of visitors, urging all employees to commit with the infection control measures and spread of health awareness on COVID-19.
As they are the first line of defense against COVID-19, PHC institutions follow certain criteria in the assessing received cases. The medical records clerk will ask some important questions that help to assess the patient’s condition initially, including: What are the current symptoms that you have? Have you recently returned from travel, have you had contact with someone at home recently returned from travel?
If the symptoms are normal and the patient have not travel, he/she would receive regular service. If it turns out that the patient has some similar symptoms to Corona virus and has returned or been in contact with one of the travelers, he/she will be given mask and gloves and then directed to one of the isolation rooms (3 rooms are available for these cases). The concerned doctor will communicate with the patient via the isolation roomphone, and ask more questions in detail that would help significantly in diagnosing the condition and give instructions for home quarantine.
The physician will perform all the required examinations (checking temperature, pressure, respiratory system) then collecting a saliva sample from the mouth and a sample from the nose. Meanwhile, the health educator will provide all instructions to be followed at home until the results appear which will often take two to three days. If the result were to be positive, the head of the health center will personally contact the patient to take more information before starting the 14-day home quarantine procedures and communicate daily with the patient to check on his condition and the occurrence of any other developments.