• Saturday, Aug 15, 2020
  • Last Update : 10:48 am

Are critically-ill children being refused treatment during this pandemic?

  • Published at 04:47 pm July 5th, 2020
winter cold wave-mahmud hossain opu/DT
Reperesentational photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

A child born at BIRDEM General Hospital 2 (Child and Mother) at Segun Bagicha on June 28 was refused admission in an NICU because the hospital’s trainee resident medical officers (RMO) had called a strike

One-year-old Nadia Islam was rushed to Noakhali Sadar Hospital on June 22 midnight with loose bowels, vomiting, and chest pain.

Nadia’s father Nasir Uddin, who hails from Subarnachar upazila under Noakhali district, said doctors at the hospital diagnosed the child nine hours after she was admitted and then suggested that the baby has to be shifted to a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) immediately.

The next day, Nasir took his daughter to Dhaka Shishu (Children) Hospital. However, doctors at the hospital admitted her in the general ward and said she would only be transferred to the NICU if her Covid-19 test report came negative. 

“By then, the baby’s health condition had deteriorated further,” Nasir Uddin said.    

''In order to save Nadia, we have contacted at least 9-10 private hospital-clinics at Panthapath and Green Road area to manage an NICU bed. However, these hospitals gave us the same condition that admission can only be possible if we can provide a Covid-19 negative certificate for her. Later that night, we managed to get an NICU bed at Uni-health Specialized Hospital (Old Gastoliver Building) in Green Road without a coronavirus test report,” he added.

Surprisingly, when Nasir and his family went to visit his daughter at the hospital the next morning, they found Nadia’s hands and legs tied with rope with the NICU bed and she was wearing a mask without oxygen support.

“Her condition seemed to have deteriorated even more, and that’s why we went to another hospital on June 25 with a sample from the baby for a coronavirus test, believing that she would get better treatment. However, the results of the tests were to be delivered within the next three days.”

Nadia was declared dead later that afternoon. 

Nasir Uddin claimed his daughter died from the lack of proper treatment at Uni-health Specialized Hospital, together with the barriers to admission at other hospital-clinics without a coronavirus negative certificate.

Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Dhaka Shishu (Children) Hospital Communications Officer Abdul Hakim said that all patients admitted at the NICU were in critical condition. 

“Therefore, in order to protect them, it is often recommended to test children for Covid-19 infection,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Uni-Health Specialist Hospital authorities could not be reached for a comment despite repeated attempts.

On May 27, the government directed all private and public hospitals, having 50 beds or more, clinics, and diagnostic centres to provide treatment to both Covid and Non-Covid patients under separate arrangements, following reports of harassment of patients while treatment during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, a child born at BIRDEM General Hospital 2 (Child and Mother) at Segun Bagicha on June 28 was refused admission in an NICU because the hospital’s trainee resident medical officers (RMO) had called a strike.

Kazi Iqbal Hossain, father of the child, said BIRDEM doctors advised him at midnight that the baby boy needs to be shifted to the NICU urgently, but not at BIRDEM’s NICU as there was an on-going strike.

The RMOs of BIRDEM called the strike demanding job stability, disbursement of full salaries, and personal protection equipment against the Covid-19 pandemic.

In despair, Kazi Iqbal contacted different private hospitals to manage an NICU for his son. At last after a long search, he was able to reserve an NICU bed at another in Panthapath in exchange for a huge sum. 

Saying that he admitted his wife to BIRDEM Hospital as it has state-of-the-art facilities, Kazi Iqbal also questioned: “But, how logical is it to deprive a patient from treatment after admission only because of a strike?” 

Talking to Dhaka Tribune, BIRDEM Director General Professor MKI Qayyum Chowdhury said that many of those who carried out the strike had joined work. He, however, said he was not aware of any patient being deprived of medical treatment due to the strike.

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