From April 29, DGHS had permitted three hospitals – Evercare, Square and United – to collect and test samples from their indoor patients only
More than two and half months following the detection of the first Covid-19 case in Bangladesh, the government has permitted 13 private hospitals and diagnostic centres in three districts to conduct tests.
A press release was issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), signed by its acting director general Prof Nasima Sultana, on Tuesday afternoon.
The institutions are in Dhaka (11), Chittagong (1), and Bogura (1).
They are: Evercare Hospital, Square Hospital, Praava Health, Ibn Sina Medical College Hospital, United Hospital, Biomed Diagnostics, DMFR Molecular Lab and Diagnostics, LabAid Hospital, and Care Medical College, Bangladesh Institute of Health Science General Hospital in Dhaka.
Outside the city, Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar upazila can conduct tests for Covid-19. The other two institutions are TMSS Medical College and Rafatullah Community Hospital in Bogra and Chevron Clinical Laboratory in Chittagong.
According to DGHS sources, the move was not a spontaneous decision. As part of the measure, from April 29, DGHS had permitted three hospitals – Evercare, Square and United – to collect and test samples from their indoor patients only.
However, in order to have a better method in place to enrol patients, especially indoor patients at the non-permitted hospitals, the measure had been further extended, added the sources.
According to the press release, it will cost Tk,3500 to collect samples and perform tests for indoor and outdoor patients in the hospitals.
Extending the earlier-announced facilities to other non-permitted private hospitals will now help such hospitals to collect samples directly from patients.
The press statement noted that hospitals which had been permitted to conduct tests would have to take the samples from the non-permitted private hospitals and clinics for testing.
The non-permitted hospitals may charge Tk500 for collecting samples from patients.
Among the hospitals, only Praava Health has begun its operations while the rest will do so after Eid.
The DGHS has also allowed the private hospitals to collect samples from home and to this end, a person showing symptoms or those who had come into contact with Covid-19 positive patients and wanted tests to be done would have to pay an additional charge of Tk1,000 (altotal Tk4,500) for the collection of samples from home and tests.
The DGHS asked all the permitted hospitals and diagnostics to send all results of the conducted tests in an integrated form to the lab call centre and District Health Information System (DHIS), the information management centre of the DGHS.
Sources at the DGHS and the CDC said the hospitals would not be provided with testing kits. They would have to arrange them on their own through maintaining standards or through utilising the services of authorized companies allowed by the government.
However, there was a possibility of a re-evaluation of rates of sample collection and testing, said the sources.
Meanwhile, experts have let it be known that the initiative should have come much earlier because in times of a pandemic, such measures are an emergency need for treatment of both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients at the same hospitals. And no patient should be denied that treatment, they said.
The grim reality, though, is that no patients, either Covid-19 or not, have in recent times been observed to be treated at hospitals, said the worried experts.
They said they were receiving a number of complaints relating to many people who, after coming to the health kiosks or booths, tried to bribe the health workers to collect their samples before those of others despite noticing people waiting at the centres. The new initiatives will send many such people needing tests of their samples to the private facilitates.
This initiative will allow the hospitals to take quick decisions and provide treatment after isolating the confirmed cases as early as possible, said Jahirul Karim, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), CDC.
It will also reduce pressure on government facilities, he added.