Twenty four per cent frontline health workers including doctors and nurses involved in COVID-19 treatment and response were yet to get personal protective equipment, according to a survey unveiled on Saturday.
Bangladesh Health Watch conducted the follow-up survey after they completed the first one in April.
The researchers re-interviewed 46 respondents (out of 60 originally interviewed in April) on the relevant issues on 05-11 May and also found that 44 per cent of the frontline respondents were not satisfied over the quality of the PPE they were given.
So far, 42 physicians reportedly died of COVID-19 till Saturday, most of them infected with the novel coronavirus allegedly while they went to treat patients without PPE or bellow quality PPE, said public health activists.
Out of 24 per cent, 23.1 per cent were physicians (MBBS), 50 per cent nurses and midwives and 12.5 per cent paramedics still did not receive PPEs.
Compared to the earlier survey of April 2020, there has been some improvement in the supply of personal protective equipment, especially among the paramedics. In April, 25 per cent did not receive any PPE.
BHW disseminated the findings of their two researches — PPE and Health Financing at a webinar moderated by its convener Dr Mushtaque Chowdhury where health experts, academics, journalists and members of BHW Working Group were present.
Professor Dr Shah Monir Hossain, professor Dr Abul Faiz, Dr Moudud Hossain, Dr Iqbal Anwar, Dr AJ Faisel, government-appointed divisional advisor on COVID-19, also spoke among others.
About the health budget, the report unveiled that the government has allocated Tk 41,000 crore, which was 1.3 per cent of the GDP and 5.1 per cent of the total budget.
DGHS’s former director general Dr Abul Faiz said that the insufficient budgetary allocation could not be expended by the agencies for the lack of manpower.
Public health activist Khairul Islam said that to tackle the current viral outbreak, the health sector needed additional manpower, which they failed to increase.
Shah Monir said that 20 per cent of the insufficient health workers’ posts were still vacant.
Dr AM Zakir Hussain said that a huge number of health workers were regularly getting exposed to COVID-19 due to the fact that they either do not know the use of safety gear like masks, face shields, goggles or received bellow quality PPEs.
Public health activists urged the government to take immediate steps to mitigate COVID-19 and to ensure health services for all other diseases.
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