The government should help private hospitals procure ventilators because there could be an acute shortage of the key device in the fight against coronavirus, Labaid Limited Managing Director AM Shamim said.
Ventilator crisis is a pressing issue in different countries and if the government lends money immediately, the private hospitals will be able to install 1,000 ventilators in four to six weeks, he hoped.
"The government should provide us Tk 500 crore in interest-free loans to install around 10,000 ventilators in two months," Shamim told The Daily Star in an interview yesterday.
"The coming months are crucial because there could be an outbreak. We still have time, if we start working together now. We will be able to tackle the situation," he said.
He said the hospitals would be able to procure ventilators from China, spending Tk 6-8 lakh for each.
Bangladesh has so far reported 49 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with five deaths. Critically ill patients need ventilator support.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), there are 508 ICU beds in government hospitals and 737 private ones.
Shamim said health service providers in the private sector want to join the government efforts to fight the spread of coronavirus.
"It is time the public and private sectors came together and formed an alliance against Covid-19."
It will be needed to tackle an outbreak, Shamim said, adding that the government could offer a health insurance package for doctors, nurses and other medical employees.
Referring to the reports of shortage of safety gear for medical personnel, Shamim suggested the safety gear be collected and distributed by a single authority.
"Private hospitals may purchase the equipment from the government. This will ensure smooth supply of the safety gear."
Shamim suggested that coronavirus testing facilities be decentralised and scaled up among private hospitals.
"If private hospitals can perform coronavirus tests, people's hassles will reduce. The hospitals will collect the kits from the government."
Shamim said there were around 400 hospitals across the country with over 50 beds.
"The government should give them a monetary incentive for smooth operation over the next three months. Private hospitals will surely return the money in instalments."
Randomly setting up hospitals may not be the solution, he said.
"Currently, there are around 1.5 lakh beds in private hospitals. The government could uitilise these facilities."
Labaid has 300 beds, he said, adding, "If government asks, we can dedicate 150 for coronavirus patients. We have the establishment, trained personnel and other equipment. This would be a more feasible approach."
Referring to reports of people not getting treatment at different hospitals, Shamim said the problem would be solved if hospitals are dedicated for coronavirus patients only.