Crying need for ICU beds
Currently we are witnessing the pandemic worsening by the hour. As the situation is deteriorating, we can feel the desperate pinch for ICU beds. 'ICU crisis' has now found a permanent place in newspapers and news scrolls. Newspapers are flooded with pictures where relatives of patients in critical conditions are running from one hospital to another, in search for an empty ICU bed. According to a recent news report, the ICUs of public hospitals such as Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Kurmitola General Hospital have not had more than one empty bed in the last week. People who are in waitlist of ICU beds have to wait for the bed occupants to die or recover and then occupy the beds. And, sadly most patients in ICUs are not recovering.
However, on the first week of April, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) announced that they are working to double the number of ICU beds in the capital within the next 7 to days. Later, the health minister announced that work is in progress to put 200 ICU beds and 1,000 isolation ones in the makeshift Covid-19 hospital in Mohakhali within the next two weeks. As we had expected, none of the promises were realized.
Reportedly, the DGHS has not yet complied with the prime minister's order in last June to set up ICUs in every district hospital. Until these ICU beds in public hospitals are added patients would only keep dying or be waiting for someone else to die.
Similar to the ICU crisis, there are also shortages of ventilators. Some hospitals are operating with only 50 % ventilators against the number of available ICU beds. Is this supposed to be the quality of healthcare provided in a progressive nation, failing to address the second wave?
This again echoes how our health sector keeps failing.
Lastly, the government's decision to build the specialised Covid-19 hospital in Mohakhali and to add hundreds of ICU beds to existing healthcare facilities is certainly a commendable one. But, here we want to recall what happened to the much-hyped 2,000-bed Bashundhara Covid-19 temporary hospital and how improper planning failed it. We do not wish to witness similar incident repeating itself.
Therefore, we urge the government and authorities concerned, both public and private hospitals to join hands. Everyone must realize that these ordinary lives matter and only concerted efforts can save them.