Public and private hospitals [Archives:2004/753/Health]

July 8 2004

By Nawal Zaid
For the Yemeni Times

If we look closely into this subject, we will find it to be very interesting. Public and private hospitals constitute many financial, social and health problems for the general public as a whole. Public hospitals obviously lack much needed support and therefore they provide insufficient attention and care to patients. Many times we have heard of incidents about patients that were rushed to public hospitals' emergency rooms, but they end up dead because of the inadequate response they receive at the hospitals. Various excuses are made, such the lack of medicine, laboratories, vital medical equipment or highly qualified medical cadre to handle serious conditions.
Many patients requiring urgent operations are usually put in queues, on the 'first come first served' principle, and end up dieing. What is even worse is the fact some of public hospitals' nurses are not very qualified and subsequently jeopardizing lives of many patients.
Because many Yemeni patients are compelled to visit public hospitals frequently for medical treatment for a variety of illnesses, ranging from minor to life-threatening conditions, because they cannot afford to go to private hospitals or to seek medical treatment abroad, hospitals are constantly overcrowded and subsequently patients receive only a minimum level of attention.
On the other hand, private hospitals are supposedly equipped with better medical equipment and more educated doctors and nurses. However, only the more affluent sections of society seek immediate medical attention at these hospitals because of the high prices they necessarily and unnecessarily charge. However, many of this segment of patients, who left these hospitals on their feet, end up to die of shock and heart attacks at a latter time when they find out the financial burdens their closest family members had encountered to fund their medical treatment at private hospitals. Of course, there is nothing more important than to safe someone's life, whatever the price might be.
Anyhow, there must be a more strict monitoring of hospitals, both public and private, by the Ministry of Health and Population, at least to ensure that patients who unfortunately end up spending all their life-savings in order to be treated at private hospitals are actually getting original-brand medicine and not imitation or smuggled medicine at extremely high prices. Many private hospitals have no mercy in the application of their principle 'pay first and then receive treatment'. They normally forget that the medical profession is foremost a humanitarian mission.
The state, represented by Ministry of Health and Population, must make the health sector a priority and it is required to improve health services provided at public hospitals and to supply those hospitals with more modern medical equipment for the sake of the vast majority of the population.