39 districts have no corona test labs
The country is running short of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratories to test corona patients with the number of virus-affected people increasing each day.
Only 25 districts have 52 PCR laboratories. Of them, Dhaka alone has 28 PCR labs while 24 other districts have one each.
Setting up PCR lab in every district of Bangladesh is now the urgent need to face the pandemic.
A patient has to wait for 7 to 10 days to get test results due to shortage of PCR laboratories and during this period there is possibility of transmission.
If the PCR laboratories are established in every district, Covid-19 tests will be completed earlier and the patients can know about their status quickly and therefore the treatment will take place smoothly.
There are only 52 PCR machines across the country with the labs overburdened with pending samples.
Each of these machines is capable of testing 94 samples and it takes some 7 to 10 hours to get back the results of a batch. Many of these machines are used to test more than a batch of samples every day.
The institutions and hospitals that have PCR labs in Dhaka are: the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), Institute of Public Health Nutrition, Mohakali, Child Health Research Foundation (Dhaka Shishu Hospital), Institute for Developing Science and Health Initiatives (ideSHi), Dhaka's National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Center, The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), National Polio, Measles and Rubella Laboratory in Institute of Public Health (NPML-IPH), Kurmitola General Hospital, Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital, Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, Mugda Medical College Hospital, Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute & Hospital, Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious
Diseases (BITID), Sher-e-Bangla Medical College, Barishal; Cox's Bazar Medical College Hospital, National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Center, Dhaka University Centre for Advanced Research in Sciences (DUCARS), Central Police Hospital, Evercare Hospital Dhaka, Square Hospitals Ltd., Praava Health Bangladesh Ltd., Ibn Sina Hospital, Enam Medical College & Hospital, United Hospital Limited, Anwer Khan Modern Medical College Hospital, Biomed Diagnostics, Labaid Specialized Hospital, DNA Solution Ltd., DMFR Molecular Lab & Diagnostics
The institutions and hospitals that have PCR labs in 24 districts are: Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases in Chattogram, Rangpur Medical College and Hospital, Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital, Mymensingh Medical College, Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College, Khulna Medical College and Hospital, Barishal's Sher-e-Bangla Medical College (SBMC), Cox's Bazar Medical College and Hospital, Chittagong Medical College Hospital, Cumilla Medical College Hospital, Faridpur Medical College Hospital, Kushtia Medical College Hospital, M Abdur Rahim Medical College Hospital and Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College, Khulna Medical College Hospital, Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital, Mymensingh Medical College Hospital, Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, BITD, Chattogram Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Abdul Malek Ukil Medical College & Hospital, Noakhali Science and Technology University, Sheikh Hasina Medical College Jamalpur, Shaheed M. Monsur Ali Medical College Sirajganj, Rangpur Medical College, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Jashore University of Science and Technology, Narayanganj 300-Bed Hospital, Gazi Covid-19 PCR Lab, Narayanganj.
Asked about the shortage of PCR lab in Bangladesh, Professor Dr Nasima Sultana, Additional Director General of DGHS, acknowledged that there was shortage of PCR machines in the country the way the world was facing it.
When asked, Md Habibur Rahman Khan, Convener of Covid-19 Media Cell and Additional Secretary to the Health Services Division, said, "We feel that every district needs a PCR lab but it's a lengthy process. It'll take a long time. We think that they can be done in one to two years."
"Now we've not enough trained manpower. During this coronavirus period, we've trained some technologists and lab assistants through some video contents and videoconferences training them how to collect samples from suspected Covid-19 patients. But they need more training," he added.
According to public health experts, even those working as technologists at labs are not properly trained.
Dr ASM Alamgir, the Principal Scientific Officer (PSO) at the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said "We've very few virologists while microbiologists are now working at our laboratories to deal with the situation."
Alamgir said they were facing problems in handling the pressure of Covid-19 testing with limited capacity.
"The recruitment of medical technologist has remained stopped for a long time due to legal complications. But the government has taken an initiative to recruit some medical technologists very soon to minimize a bit the shortage of skilled lab technologists," he said.