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Health Minister to BPMCA: Double ICUs, increase Covid-19 beds by 20%

  • Published at 10:45 pm November 29th, 2020
File photo: Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque addresses the press at Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday, January 31, 2020 <strong>Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune</strong>
File photo shows Health Minister Zahid Maleque addressing the media Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

The minister made the call during a discussion on the second wave of Covid-19, held in Dhaka

Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque has asked Bangladesh Private Medical College Association (BPMCA) to increase the number of dedicated Covid-19 beds by 20% as part of efforts to fight the second wave of coronavirus.

The minister made the call during a discussion on the second wave of Covid-19 in Bangladesh and the current status of its vaccine, held in Dhaka on Sunday.

Describing management of the country’s healthcare system as critically important at the moment, Maleque said: “We are passing a difficult time as we have to ensure treatment for dengue, Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients simultaneously.”

Quoting the keynote paper presented by BPMCA President MA Mubin Khan at the event, the health minister said: “The member hospitals of BPMCA have some 10,000 beds for treatment across the country. Of those, 1,000 to 1,200 beds are for coronavirus patients. This means only 10% or little more than 10% of the total bed capacity has been used for Covid-19 patients.

“Increase the number of dedicated Covid-19 beds by 20%,” the minister added.

He also said: “According to the keynote presented by the BPMCA president, there are only 200 ICUs for treating Covid-19 infected people. Increase it to 400. You have the capacity to do that.”

BPMCA President MA Mubin Khan, while presenting the keynote paper, demanded tax rebates for importing medical equipment.

He also urged the government to allow private hospitals to provide Covid-19 vaccines, when available.  

In response, Health Minister Maleque said the issuing of tax rebates is not under his jurisdiction, but he will speak with the Finance and Commerce Ministries in this regard.

About Covid-19 vaccinations at private hospitals, he said: “If the government hospitals are given the vaccines, private hospitals will get them too.”

DGHS DG wants Covid-19 test fee reduced

Meanwhile, Director General (DG) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Prof Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam urged private hospital authorities to reduce the fee for Covid-19 tests. 

“I would like to request you [private hospitals] to reduce the fee for Covid-19 tests, especially for the expatriate Bangladeshis who are earning money for the country and keeping our economy running.”

At present, the expatriate Bangladeshis are paying Tk3,500 (the same as others) to get themselves tested for coronavirus at private facilities.

“This little help would boost their morale. I kindly request you to consider this matter,” the DGHS DG added.

A detailed plan for the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine across the country has been confirmed, assured Prof Dr Bashar, adding: “If a vaccine is invented in any corner of the world, the rest of us will surely get it eventually. We all need to be patient as it [Covid-19 vaccine] has to be distributed in steps.”

Health Education and Family Planning Division Secretary Ali Nur and General Secretary Of BPMCA Dr Anwer Hossain Khan were present at the program, among others.

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