In addition to shortages of doctors and cleaners, many physicians and medical workers are suffering from mental trauma
Treatment of Covid-19 patients in the country is being hampered by a lack of specialist doctors and cleaners at hospitals dedicated to treating the infection, according to the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19.
“We conducted our first visit [to a dedicated Covid-19 hospital] on April 27 and our second visit 15 days later on May 12, in order to find out the problems at the hospitals as well as to measure the progress of treatment efforts and find any loopholes in safety measures,” said Dr Md Shahidullah, head of NTAC and president of the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council.
NTAC has already submitted a report to the Health Service Division and Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) in this regard, he added.
In addition to shortages of doctors and cleaners, many physicians and medical workers are suffering from mental trauma, according to NTAC’s findings.
The committee is satisfied with the oxygen supply at hospitals, but there is a shortage of oxygen-related and equipment, as well as weakness in the distribution of oxygen to patients.
The committee also found some positive changes and improvements in the treatment process.
According to physicians at Covid-19 hospitals, coronavirus patients may have other complex diseases such as heart disease, neurological conditions, diabetes, respiratory problems, and kidney complications. Specialist doctors are essential for the proper treatment and well-being of such patients.
The government recently appointed 2,000 new doctors to help with Covid-19 treatment, but the death toll may still skyrocket if the government does not deploy more consultants to help the new doctors, they added.
Dr Nazrul Islam, a former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said: “Covid-19 patients may have many other complexities. Expert support is necessary for such complex patients.”
According to the DGHS, a total of 420 physicians are deployed at dedicated Covid-19 hospitals in Dhaka, but most are junior consultants or medical officers with MBBS degrees.
“It has been recommended to the government to deploy one-third of doctors who have completed postgraduate degrees to Covid-19 hospitals to ensure treatment,” said Dr Shahidullah.
“We have already communicated with the government authorities concerned to deploy more consultants at the Covid-19 hospital as per requirements,” he added.
He also said the government has already taken the initiative to shore up gaps in the cleaning and support staff.
“According to our findings, physicians and other medical workers are also suffering from mental trauma, as coronavirus is a most contagious disease. We are encouraging them, so they can do their duty properly,” Dr Shahidullah, also a child care specialist further said.
“A poor oxygen management system is also hampering the treatment process,” said Dr Iqbal Arslan, president of Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad and member of NTAC.
The arrangement of an efficient oxygen management system is a must to improve the situation immediately, he added.
Regarding improvements to the treatment process, he said: “We have seen some positive changes, like the shortage of nurses has already been solved. Some equipment has also been supplied to the Covid-19 hospitals, including portable X-ray machines. More health safety equipment is now available at Covid-19 hospitals compared to our first visit.”
Nasima Sultana, additional director general of DGHS, said: “We are mitigating all the problems gradually.”
Although most of those who have died from Covid-19 in developed countries are among the elderly, Bangladesh has recorded a 19% death rate among those who are aged 41-50 and a 31% death rate for those who are below 50, according to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).