IAN ORTEGA: I am not a COVID-19 skeptic, but the incentives are simply skewed in this fight

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Ian Ortega

Right now, there is a COVID-19 pandemonium. You are being made to think we are on the brink. That beds have run out in hospitals. That more people are dying. That more people are in need of ventilators.

I am not a COVID-19 skeptic, but the incentives are simply skewed in this fight.

I have just been speaking to a friend whose father has been in ICU for about 7 days. The daily rate was UGX 2.5m. Add in the medication, and you begin looking at a bill of around UGX 17m.

I took time and spoke to different friends in the medical field. All of them agree on one thing, there is a commercialization spree when it comes to COVID-19.

The moment you report any symptoms of difficulty in breathing, hospitals are incentivized to quickly put you on oxygen support. Why? Because it makes monetary sense.

So right now you have a scenario where a number of people on ventilators need not be there. A number of hospitals have expanded their ICU sections simply because it is more profitable to treat a COVID-19 patient than a normal patient.

Call it a COVID-19 boom in hospitals. You are charged for the hospital bed, you are charged for the doctor, the nurse and a specialist. Then you are charged for the PPE, and yes that item aka sundries. Finally, you are charged per oxygen cylinder. And then the COVID-19 swab. Before we also charge you for the medication.

Never before have hospitals had demand for a service where the least they can expect is UGX 2m per day.

Perhaps that’s why you should be extremely scared, that there is more motivation to put you on oxygen than not to. And that explains 60% of the COVID-19 cases on oxygen in Uganda. The moment you drop below a 96% in saturation levels, they will immediately hook you up. The moment you complain of any breathing problems, you will be hooked.

I am not a COVID-19 denialist but I am just against the incentives in this fight. They’re heavily commercialized.

More reason for you to do your best to keep safe! Avoid sex, it is the number one barrier to social distancing!

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The writer is a Ugandan Engineer with love for writing and books

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