Welcome COVID-19 directives, but they must be acted on

Published: 00:00, Jun 04,2020

 
 

IT IS heartening to note that the prime minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the establishment of intensive care units in all district hospitals under two donor-funded projects on emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The projects — one involving about Tk 11.27 billion with about Tk 8.5 billion coming from the World Bank and the other involving about Tk 13.45 billion with about Tk 8.5 billion coming from the Asian Development Bank — began in April under the health ministry and are scheduled to run till April 2023. The prime minister, who gave retrospective approval to the two projects in the executive committee meeting of the National Economic Council that the prime minister presided over online on Tuesday, wants, as the planning minister says, the intensive care units to be appropriately equipped and adequate human resources to be appointed so that emergency patients could receive proper services. The prime minister is also reported to have said that no compromise should be made on the proper flow of oxygen to patients who suffer from breathing problems. Such a move is of utmost importance now when both the novel coronavirus infection and the number of death because of COVID-19, the disease that the virus causes, are increasing.

COVID-19 has left 55,140 people infected in Bangladesh as of Wednesday since the first reported detection on March 8 and 746 of them dead since the first case on March 18. So far, 11,590 cases of infection have been announced closed. Official figures that the government gives out in its daily bulletin on the COVID-19 situation show that 34,145 people have been infected with the  new coronavirus in the past 18 days since when the daily detection has continued to remain above a thousand while 20,995 have been infected in the preceding 70 days. In a situation like this, also in view of the restrictions on people’s movement having been much eased, offices and industries having reopened on a limited scale with the adherence to the health safety protocols and public transports having been allowed to run on the road on a limited scale with the required caution beginning on May 31, there are fears that the COVID-19 infection might intensify and may further strain the national healthcare system, requiring more hospital admission and the healthcare system needs to cope with the situation with adequate preparation. In a time such as this, the prime minister’s directives for the establishment of intensive care units in all district hospitals with the required preparedness are welcome.

In view of the present COVID-19 outbreak, which came about in the wake of a deplorable dengue outbreak in the past year, the planning minister is reported to have said that Bangladesh needs higher public investment in the health sector and it is hoped that the government would so do in the medium and the short run. But for the government to tackle the COVID-19 crisis at hand, it must ensure that what the prime minister has directed should take place in the short run. And there is no scope for the government to dither about it, in time or in earnestness.

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