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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh prohibits halothane in anesthesia after fatalities

  • DGHS asked to ensure the use of isoflurane or sevoflurane as an alternative to halothane
  • The order sent to all relevant stakeholders in this regard
  • DGDA asked to regulate the buying or selling of halogenated anesthetics
Update : 27 Mar 2024, 11:04 PM

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has directed all hospitals across Bangladesh to stop the use of halothane in anesthesia following recent fatalities.

The ministry in an order asked the Directorate General of Health Services to ensure the use of isoflurane or sevoflurane as an alternative to halothane.

It also asked the Directorate General of Drug Administration to regulate the buying or selling of halogenated anesthetics.

The order signed by joint secretary Jashim Uddin Haider has been sent to all relevant stakeholders in this regard.

It is also circulated among the anesthesiologists.

The recent deaths of two children during circumcision have been attributed to anesthesia. Relatives of a patient who died in Labaid Hospital also claimed that the death was due to anesthesia. The doctors of the hospital, however, said they did not use anesthesia for the endoscopy.

The government has not disclosed any further details – whether they investigated all those incidents using experts.

But the health ministry in the order said they decided to stop the use of halothane in all government and private hospitals following the recent fatalities.

Professor of anesthesia Dr ABM Muksudul Alam, also Principal of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, told Dhaka Tribune that they had recommended the government to stop the use of halothane last year.

“Halothane is no longer a choice for anesthesia globally. That’s why we requested the government to stop the use of it. Now it’s being implemented,” he said.

Dr Alam, also a leader of Bangladesh Society of Anaesthesiolosts, could not confirm whether halothane was used in recent cases that created panic among the public, particularly among the parents as circumcision is a common practice in Muslim-dominated Bangladesh.

“Our drug companies are not producing halothane from last year. If it’s available in the market, it is either expired products or adulterated or smuggled from outside,” Dr Alam said.

Though it's cost-effective, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already banned halothane due to its harmful physical and environmental impacts.

The health ministry also directed the authorities to ensure the quality of anesthesia in all hospitals.

While buying new anesthesia machines, the ministry asked the authorities to ensure that those are specifically meant for isoflurane or sevoflurane vaporizer use.

They also asked the health directorate to estimate the cost of replacing halothane vaporizers in existing machines.

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