Increase ICU beds in Chattogram

Availability of service dismal compared to demand

It should not be lost on anyone that just 12 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for the entirety of Noakhali, Feni, Rangamati, Khagrachhari, Bandarban, Cox's Bazar, and Chattogram are nowhere close to being adequate. Yet, as we have recently pointed out in a report, that is exactly the number of ICU beds in public hospitals that is available for patients in the region who need intensive care.

Intensive Care Units are there for patients with severe or life-threatening injuries or illnesses. And at any given moment, the likelihood of finding one of the 12 beds at the Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) empty for someone who needs critical care is marginal at best. Alongside the number of beds, other logistical and manpower support needed also remain severely inadequate. Estimates show that every year, around 2,500 patients in the region need intensive care support.

So for patients in this region, many from low-income backgrounds, the only other option available in emergency cases are private hospitals where the cost of intensive care is very high. The difference in out-of-pocket expenditures between private and public hospitals is in the lakhs, and as one case in our report showed, patients from low-income backgrounds might have to resort to drastic measures such as selling off livestock and land just to afford a private ICU bed.

The availability of this essential service is a matter of life and death. And, for the majority of the population, government hospitals remain the only viable option. The constitution recognises healthcare as a basic right, and as a country committed to fulfilling the SDGs, access to healthcare (more so in emergency cases) is of utmost importance. The inadequacy of the number of beds in comparison to the number of potential patients in the region should have been recognised by the administration already. We urge that the matter is now given serious consideration, and immediate measures are taken to increase the number of beds in the region. If possible, not only should the number be increased, but also distributed among public hospitals in the area.


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