As the Covid-19 situation in the country worsens every day, it seems one thing that has a high supply deficiency is also the thing which is most desperately needed: an ICU bed. Across the capital, relatives of patients in critical conditions are running from one hospital to another, looking for an empty ICU bed. According to a report published in this daily yesterday, the ICUs of public hospitals such as Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Kurmitola General Hospital have not had more than one empty bed in the last week, with the exception of DMCH having six empty beds on April 2. What is more depressing is, those who are on the lengthy waitlists for these beds are having to wait for the current occupants to die (or recover swiftly), so that they can get an empty ICU bed. Why is a full and proper recovery not the expected outcome for patients in Dhaka's public hospital ICUs?
On April 5, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) announced that it was working to double the number of ICU beds in the capital within the next seven to ten days. The following day, the health minister announced that work is underway to put 200 ICU beds and 1,000 isolation ones (all with "ICU facilities") in the makeshift Covid-19 hospital in Mohakhali within the next two weeks. But where is the guarantee that these promises will be fulfilled? After all, according to a report in The Daily Star, the DGHS has not yet completed the prime minister's order in last June to set up ICUs in every district hospital. Until these ICU beds in public hospitals are added or built, are people supposed to just keep dying or be waiting for someone else to die so that they can take up that space? Is this supposed to be the quality of healthcare provided in a soon-to-be developing nation that is facing exponentially higher Covid-19 infection numbers every day?
The government's decision to build the specialised Covid-19 hospital in Mohakhali—and to add hundreds of ICU beds to existing healthcare facilities—is certainly a commendable one. However, we urge the government and concerned authorities of both public and private hospitals to join hands in order to bring this decision to speedy fruition, so that people do not have to die before they can get the care they need.