Editorial: Why is it taking so long to make ICUs functional? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 30, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:36 AM, April 30, 2020

Editorial: Why is it taking so long to make ICUs functional?

Many Covid-19 patients are dying for lack of proper support

It is most unfortunate that many of the 17 dedicated hospitals for Covid-19 treatment in the country do not yet have their intensive care units (ICU) ready to treat the patients. Even though ventilators have been installed in most of these hospitals, the ICUs still could not be made operational for lack of other necessary equipment, including patient monitors, pulse oximeters, oxygen cylinders, etc. Reportedly, 12 types of equipment are needed for the smooth operation of an ICU which these specialised hospitals are lacking. Meanwhile, patients are dying in these hospitals every day without getting proper treatment. Allegations were made to the media by the family members of the deceased patients that their loved ones didn't get any oxygen support in the specialised Covid-19 hospitals while they were having difficulty in breathing, let alone any ICU support. 

According to a WHO-China joint mission report released last month, around 20 percent of the Covid-19 patients need ICU care—five percent of them require artificial respiration and another 15 percent need to breathe in highly concentrated oxygen. And without having a fully-functioning ICU, such life-saving care cannot be given to the critical patients.

It is incomprehensible why it is taking so long for the government to prepare only a handful of hospitals with ICU facilities for Covid-19 treatment. Already a month and a half has gone by since the first coronavirus case was detected in the country, with the number of deaths and new infections rising by the day.

Therefore, we urge the health ministry and the Directorate General of Health Services to immediately provide the hospitals with the necessary equipment to make their ICUs fully functional. They should also give attention to the hospitals outside the capital which have a very negligible number of ICU beds ready for the Covid-19 patients. Besides, the crisis of manpower for treating ICU patients should also be addressed. If the government does not take immediate measures to make the ICUs functional, we might see a surge in deaths from Covid-19 in the coming days. 

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