No government hospital in Dhaka equipped with enough fire safety equipment
Hospitals in Dhaka are plagued with allegations of irregularities in service, care and costs. However, with the fire incident in Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital (ShSMCH), a new problem that plagues the system has come to light.
A report of Fire Service and Civil Defence, prepared after supervising more than 400 hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centres in Dhaka city and the district throughout 2018, found that more then 90% of the city health care centres do not have proper fire safety equipment.
The Fire Service inspected 432 government, non-government hospitals and rehabilitation centres and cetegorized them as satisfactory, risky and high-risk places.
Among the hospitals only 11 (2.5%) private hospitals were found to have enough fire safety equipment, while 421 (97.5%) hospitals were rated risky or high-risk.
Of those, 175 (40.51%) hospitals are in highly vulnerable state.
None of the 20 government national tertiary-level hospitals and divisional health care centres, including Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Combined Military Hospital and Kurmitola General Hospital were equipped properly for combating fire outbreaks and were categorized as risky.
National Institute of ENT was found to be high-risk.
The shocking part of the report is that highly trusted hospitals in the city – Square Hospitals Ltd, the Kidney Foundation and Research Centre, Ibn Sina Medical College Hospital, Lab Aid, Popular Diagnostic Centre, icddr,b, Gonoshasthaya Nagar Hospital and Central Hospital Bangladesh were all categorized as risky. Samorita Hospital was found to be high-risk.
One of the most popular hospitals in Savar, Enam Medical College and Hospital, which played an important role in treating victims of the Rana Plaza disaster, was found to be in high-risk state.
Recently appointed State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief, Enamur Rahman MP, is the chairman of the hospital.
The report also included some 10 rehabilitation centres which were also in poor state.
The Fire Service said it considered the type of building, basement and semi-basement, ventilation system, water reservoirs, fire fighting pumps, types of stairs, number and types of emergency exits, lifts and their capacity, fire lifts, ramps, slope ratio and its width, safety lobby at the floor, width of main gate of the building, generator, transformer and switch gear room, pump room, fire control room, sprinkler head at basement, hydrant valves, emergency calling and exit systems, thunder resistance and so on.
Fire Service Director Operation AKM Shakil Newaj said: “Last year we inspected the hospitals and informed them about the shortcomings they have with regard to fire safety.”
“The recommendations we made would not take much money but will increase health care services and security a lot,” he added.
“The concerned authorities have to fix the buildings found risky immediately to avoid any occurrence,” the director said.
“The force will take legal action soon if they fail to take necessary steps. We could even file cases against the hospitals,” he added.
“Besides, the force is initiating a measure to conduct inspection under mobile court to stop such irregularities,” Shakil added.