As bariatric and metabolic surgery restarts across the world, Bariatric News spoke to Ahmed Bashir about how the bariatric community can safely resume surgery...
1. When you consider all the recommendations and best practices around the globe, what do you think is the first priority for your respective country to focus in terms of managing obese patients during & after COVID-19?
Jordan has done an amazing job in managing and controlling this pandemic. Since the disease is under control, majority of sectors are going back to almost full capacity, including hospitals. We restarted 1st May. First and foremost, we have to reassure the public that hospitals are safe, and pursuing surgery for those who meet the indications is safe within these times. In general, access to obesity care is an issue, as it is elsewhere. Our public sector has limited resources. Private health insurance companies should share the burden of tackling this older disease and ‘pandemic’: obesity. Plans for such care should be made available to individuals and employers.
2. What specific changes related to the OR do you believe are the most important and do you think these changes will remain in place in the longer-term?
Patient testing is most important. Identifying patients at risk of carrying the disease, testing and identifying them are keys to keeping the disease under control, while making everyone feel safe. Hopefully, we have more answers to this disease: treatment or vaccine, and this will not be necessary in the future. Meanwhile, in addition to testing, protective gear, protocols for handling aerosol generating procedures, including smoke filters and evacuators are necessary.
3. How can bariatric specialists reassure patients that bariatric surgery remains a safe and highly effective procedure, despite the threat of COVID?
I think it is key to share with patients visually how safety precautions are taken, what happens in the preoperative, admission, OR, and postoperative phases until patients are discharged. Jordan is considered still a small community, where words travel fast. The impact of negative outcomes, unfortunately, outweigh positives. Sharing outcomes regularly with patients and public can also reassure patients.