Govt IV saline, blood bag plant shut for 2 months

Staff Correspondent | Published at 11:43pm on August 29, 2020

The Institute of Public Health has not taken any initiative to improve conditions at the plant that produced intravenous fluid saline and blood bags for government hospitals but has remained shut for two months now.

The plant has been closed after the Directorate General of Drug Administration on June 15 revoked the government institution’s licence to produce IV fluid saline and blood bags citing poor plant condition.

The drug administration in a letter cancelling the IPH licence also said that the entity also failed to ensure health safety standards at the plant.

Though two months have passed since the DGDA revoked the licence to produce the essential medical products, which are supplied to 145 government hospitals, the IPH could not sit in a meeting to discuss it and agree on its next course of action to resume operations at the plant.

‘We will soon hold a meeting to decide how we can get back the licence to produce the IV fluids and blood bags,’ said IPH director Mohammad Abdur Rahim.

He said that a meeting could not be held because of the preoccupations of his high-ups during the two months. Last week the IPH rescheduled a meeting.

Rahim said that the drug administration in a letter informed them that the machineries used at the plant were very old while the plant building had been declared abandoned seven years ago by the public works office because of its bad condition.

The plant was manned by ineligible people and lacked arrangements for them to change clothes before they started working at the plant, Rahim cited the justification the DGDA gave for the revocation of the licence.

‘This is interesting that the drug administration finds workers at a government health plant ineligible over three decades after they were appointed,’ said Rahim.

The IPH plant producing the IV fluids and blood bags was established in 1973 and its machineries were largely operated manually, said Rahim.

A move initiated last year to relocate the plant to a secure building failed halfway through.

The revocation of the licence also means that the IPH cannot store and distribute the IV fluids and blood bags that it had already produced before the revocation order came.

Rahim said that after he took over the office in March their daily production of IV fluids and blood bags ranged from 500 to 1,000 bags per day.

The prices of government-produced IV fluids of different categories ranged from Tk 65 to Tk 70 whereas private companies sell these in the market at three to four times the government price, said Rahim.

The production of IV fluids and other types of saline at the plant was rarely smooth with frequent interruptions over the years.

In 2018, the production of IV fluids, other saline and some other medical products, were suspended for over six months, prompting the Anti-Corruption Commission to launch a probe into an allegation that corrupt IPH officials had suspended saline production to favour private manufacturers.

The then IPH director, Abul Kalam Azad, had said that a crisis of raw materials forced them to suspend the production of the medical items.

IPH used to produce 12 types of saline, 21 types of reagent, blood bags, transfusion sets, 3.0 per cent sodium chloride which were supplied to the government hospitals free of cost.