Hospitals facing surge of critical coronavirus patients, with over 200 patients admitted to ICUs for the second time in 45 days
A second wave of coronavirus expected in winter is fast approaching, and the demand for ICU beds at most Dhaka hospitals is increasing every day.
Currently, there are 309 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for critical Covid-19 patients in Dhaka and 202 (65%) of them were occupied as of Monday morning.
The number of patients admitted to ICUs in Dhaka were 202 on November 14 and 199 on November 15.
The number of critical patients admitted to ICUs crossed 200-mark on November 14, nearly 45 days after 201 cases were last recorded in ICUs on October 1.
Data compiled by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) shows that there were 173 patients at ICUs in Dhaka on October 15 and 172 patients on November 1.
Bangladesh has long suffered from an ICU crisis, with many district hospitals lacking ICUs. Similar problems have been reported in many public and private medical college hospitals.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says 15%-20% of Covid-19 cases require hospitalization, with around 15% of cases presenting severe symptoms and 5% requiring intensive care.
No ICU beds vacant at six hospitals
Currently, 19 hospitals in Dhaka- 10 government and nine private- are providing ICU facilities for Covid-19 patients.
Following a huge rush of patients, no ICU beds were vacant at six hospitals in Dhaka – five public and one private.
All 10 ICU beds at Kurmitola General Hospital, 16 beds at Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Hospital, 14 beds at Mugda Medical College Hospital, 16 beds at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), 12 beds at Bangladesh Specialized Hospital, and six beds at Sarkari Karmachari Hospital,Fulbaria, in Dhaka were occupied as of Monday morning.
Twenty out of 24 beds were occupied at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (Unit 2) and Burn Unit, and 15 out of 10 ICU beds were occupied at Rajarbagh Police Hospital, DGHS data shows.
Ten out of 16 ICU beds were empty at Sheikh Russel Gastroliver Hospital as of Monday.
There is no dedicated ICU for Covid-19 patients at the Infectious Diseases Hospital and Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital (SSMCH) in Dhaka.
No ICU beds at Bangladesh Specialized Hospital were free as of Monday.
Six out of ten ICU beds were occupied at Anwar Khan Modern Medical College Hospital, 22 out of 31 ICUs at Asgar Ali Hospital, 10 out of 25 beds at Square Hospital, 15 out of 22 at United Hospital, 18 out of 20 beds at Evercare Hospital, nine out of 56 at Impulse Hospital, and seven out of 10 beds at AMZ Hospital were occupied as of Monday.
Why are more patients needing ICU facilities?
Healthcare experts said the lack of ICU beds at district hospitals is a major reason for the heavy pressure of patients at ICUs in Dhaka.
“There are no ICUs in many districts, so patients are coming to Dhaka for better treatment and their admissions are increasing pressure on Dhaka ICUs,” Prof Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 (NTAC-Covid-19), told Dhaka Tribune.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on multiple occasions has asked the ministries concerned to set up ICUs in all districts, but the directives remain ignored. Now, the government should find out why the ICUs are not yet in place,” Dr Nazrul, also former vice chancellor of BSMMU, said.
If the government does not develop ICU facilities in all districts and ensure a central oxygen supply, patients and the healthcare system will pay a heavy toll, he opined.
Officials concerned said an ICU unit costs Tk1.60 lakh to Tk2.50 lakh, subject to the quality.
ICUs promised 6 years ago
Late former health minister Mohammed Nasim six years ago told the parliament the government was setting up ICUs at every district hospital. However, no progress has been seen since then.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in April, a month after the detection of the first Covid-19 cases in Bangladesh, said the government would set up Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in all districts of the country.
“We will set up an ICU in a good hospital in every district. We have decided to do so in all districts in phases,” she said on April 27.
On June 2, during a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council, the premier directed the authorities to establish ICUs in every district hospital and ensure they are appropriately equipped. She also asked to ensure proper flow of oxygen for patients suffering from breathing-related ailments.
On October 8, the prime minister said the government was taking all-out preparations to keep district hospitals ready with ICUs and necessary oxygen to effectively deal with the possible second wave of coronavirus, which may arrive in winter.
Eminent healthcare expert Professor Rashid E Mahbub warned that the second wave may hit harder if ICU facilities, ventilation facilities, and a central oxygen supply is not put in place immediately.
Mahbub, also former Bangladesh Medical Association president and chairman of Bangladesh Health Rights Movement, told Dhaka Tribune the government would also have to train manpower for effective operation of ICUs.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque and Md Abdul Mannan, secretary of health services division under the Health Ministry, could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts.
Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital
Kurmitola General Hospital
Dhaka Medical College Hospital (Unit-2) and Burn Unit
Mugda Medical College Hospital
Rajarbagh Police Hospital
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University
Infectious Diseases Hospital
Sheikh Russel Gastroliver Hospital
Sarkari Karmachari Hospital, Fulbaria
Shaheed Shuhrawardy Medical College Hospital
Anwar Khan Modern Medical College Hospital
Asgar Ali Hospital
IBN Sina Hospital
Bangladesh Specialized Hospital