COVID-19: Why sanitiser, face masks, N-95 respirator prices skyrocketed – Expert

Medical Director of Gracevalley Medical Centre, Dr. Barth Ufoegbunam

With the increasing cost of gloves, face masks, N-95 Respirators, with regards to the outbreak of Coronavirus, code-named COVID-19, an expert has disclosed that the increment could be traceable to a number of factors.

The Medical Director of Gracevalley Medical Centre, Dr. Barth Ufoegbunam, identified that the supplies of medical consumables like gloves, face masks, N-95 Respirators and others have dried up on a global scale.

How scarcity drove prices upward

He revealed that at the peak of the epidemic in China. Chinese authorities have to come down to Nigeria to mop up face masks that were shipped to Nigeria and back to China.

In his words: “They were buying at incredible prices, some said about triple the prices in some cases far higher than what they sold to Nigerians.

“The scarcity created afterwards drove up the prices of the remnants in Nigeria. Since then the prices never came down.

“Health facilities are the worse hit as we cannot get to buy the necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for our own use and yet people expect us to treat everyone including potential COVID-19 patients presenting with respiratory symptoms with our ‘bare hands’.”

The human fear factor

While divulging other factors that led to the surge, Ufoegbunam, who is also an active member of the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN), noted that, the fear and panic created by the rising numbers of affectation both in Nigeria and beyond have made everyone scampering to lay hands on the few remaining face masks, gloves and other medical consumables.

He said: “People who have stocks are equally taking advantages of the crisis.

“Those are some of the reasons the prices have gone out of reach.”

On a Way forward

He continued: “The federal government through the ministry of health/ Agriculture and state governments should as a matter of urgency make arrangements to import these things from anywhere in the world where they are perceived to be available and sell to hospitals both private and government hospitals at controlled prices otherwise hospitals that can’t cope in the “bazaars sales” of the medical consumables will be forced to close shops.

“Thereby reducing the already diminished number of healthcare facilities and medical professionals available to tackle this pandemic in Nigeria,” he added.

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