At present, over 100 government hospitals have central oxygen systems
The sudden rise in Covid-19 cases across the country since April has shown the need for oxygen in the Covid-dedicated hospitals.
As a result, the Directorate General of Health Services, the health authorities who are playing a key role in providing treatment across the country, has taken an initiative to bring all the government hospitals under central oxygen facilities.
Officials say they have understood that oxygen is as important as medicine, in some cases more than medicines, for the Covid patients.
At present, over 100 government hospitals have central oxygen systems.
According to the daily Covid-19 press release, the government hospitals in some 11 districts and upazila health complexes in at least five districts do not have central oxygen facilities.
The authorities are currently setting up oxygen facilities in Narayanganj and Shariatpur district hospitals while those in Netrakona, Pabna, Joypurhat, Jhalakathi, Sunamganj and Moulvibazar will get the system installed soon after preparations.
On the other hand, no initiatives have so far been taken to set up facilities in Lakhsmipur, Chandpur and Panchagarh district hospitals.
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The upazila complexes that lack such facilities are located in Chittagong, Rangamati, Feni, Khagrachhari and Sylhet districts.
Sources at the hospital unit of the DGHS said that the authorities had prioritized hospitals in Khulna due to the worsening Covid situation in the division. The other priority hospitals are in Rajshahi and Rangpur.
The government is trying to ensure treatment for the patients in the less-affected districts with high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC), oxygen concentrators and cylinders, said Prof Dr Nazmul Islam, one of the spokespersons of the DGHS.
Six people died allegedly due to an oxygen supply failure in Satkhira Medical College Hospital on the evening of June 30. They were undergoing treatment at the ICU and the CCU units of the hospital.
A probe committee has been formed to investigate the deaths at SMCH. They are yet to submit their report.
Meanwhile, as many as four patients died at Pabna General Hospital due to a shortage of oxygen on July 4, according to relatives of the deceased.
Doctors at Pabna General Hospital claim the patients all arrived too late for oxygen supply to have any meaningful effect.
In early July, DGHS spokesperson Dr Nazmul Islam said there was no crisis of oxygen, but it would be difficult to continue meeting the demand if the Covid-19 infection rate maintained its upward trend.