Health workers of private, public institutions to work together to treat patients
The government has taken the initiative to set up Covid-19 field hospitals at adequately equipped private healthcare facilities to deal with a looming shortage of hospital beds due to the surging number of infections in the country.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has already announced plans to establish a field hospital in Dhaka. It has also asked local health authorities to make necessary arrangements with private healthcare facilities outside the capital and that have the means to supply oxygen to patients.
The field hospitals will be set up at private facilities in all district headquarters, as well as in divisions where the infection rate is high.
Medical staff at private facilities converted into field hospitals will be supplemented with doctors from government hospitals. They will work together to treat patients. Community healthcare providers may also be engaged in the treatment efforts.
According to DGHS data, only 5,000 out of a total of 15,000 beds at dedicated Covid-19 hospitals across the country were available as of Sunday. Just 301 out 1,263 intensive care unit (ICU) beds at both government and non-government hospitals were available.
DGHS spokesperson Dr Robed Amin said the number of available beds would run out in a week if the infection rate was not brought under control soon.
DGHS Director General Dr ABM Khurshid Alam on Tuesday said: “We are trying to manage the shrinking number of hospital beds and ICU facilities. This situation is not sustainable.”
What are the plans?
According to the DGHS DG, plans to set up field hospitals were set in motion as soon as the ongoing wave of Covid-19 began around April, as it took time to prepare the necessary facilities.
The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) convention centre has been selected to serve as the site of one of the field hospitals, as its proximity to BSMMU ensures that specialist doctors will be readily available.
Dr Khurshid Alam said using private facilities to set up the field hospitals had many benefits, such as allowing for the hospitals to be set up in quicker time and reducing the number of doctors needing to be recruited.
National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 member and former BSMMU VC Dr Nazrul Islam and former DGHS Director (Disease Control) Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed criticized the government for failing to implement measures to deal with the surging patient numbers in quicker time.
Dr Khurshid Alam said that though the number of ICUs was shrinking, inadequate treatment facilities were not the main reason behind the increase in the number of deaths from Covid-19.
“People are being admitted to hospitals very late because they are assuming that they have a normal cold or fever. The truth is that people who are being admitted to ICUs have slim chances of recovery,” he added.
“We may start sending community healthcare providers to homes in rural areas with oximeters to detect patients earlier,” he further said.
Following the request of the DGHS, the government had decided to form union and ward level committees to raise public awareness of health safety measures and vaccination, the DG said.