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We need critical care equipment, not advice

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05th-Jun-2020       
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Reza Mahmud :
A team of Chinese medical experts, who have first-hand experience in containing coronavirus and treating patients with success, is expected to arrive in Bangladesh on June 8.
Organised by the National Health Commission of China, the team will consist of 10 respiratory physicians and they will visit designated hospitals, quarantine centres, and testing centres, the Chinese embassy said in a statement.
They will hold discussions with their Bangladeshi counterparts and make calibrated propositions for containment and treatment during their two-week stay in Bangladesh, the statement added.
Public health experts welcomed the visit, but said Bangladesh does not need advice from the Chinese team, rather it needs critical care equipment when hospitals lack necessary facilities to cope up with the rising number of Covid-19 patients.
Covid-19 spread across the country rapidly and the caseload reached 57,563, as of Thursday.
 "Bangladesh would be needing more personal protective equipment (PPE), ICU beds and ventilators and other necessary medical equipment from China to increase capacity of its hospitals and protect frontline health workers when the coronavirus cases see a rapid rise here," said public health expert Prof. Dr. M. Muzaherul Huq, former advisor of World Health Organisation (WHO).
He said hospitals are already struggling with shortages of key equipment needed to take care of critically ill coronavirus patients. Adequate supply of medical equipment is crucial to bolster capacity of essential public health services to enable emergency response during the pandemic.
According to media reports, 47 out of 64 districts do not have any Intensive Care Unit (ICU) needed to treat most patients commonly suffering from breathing problems along with other complications.
According to officials concerned, only 17 of the districts have ICUs with total 173 ventilators for Covid-19 patients. Those 47 districts would have to either transfer to other districts or shift to capital Dhaka.
"Such scenario clearly demonstrates necessity of critical care medical equipment, which China can supply to us in this emergency pandemic situation," Dr Muzharul Huq told The New Nation on Thursday.
A ventilator machine that provides oxygen by mechanically moving breathable air into a patient's lungs to breath artificially is a vital medical device in ICU needed to keep a critically Covid-19 patient alive. Bangladesh also has acute shortage of the device, observed public health experts.
They said ventilator along with some other devices are now need of the hour to keep things ready considering the potentials of the number of patients.
Experts also expressed their concern over the poor logistic supports at the public hospitals fearing that with the current trend in Covid-19 infection rate continues, the thing will go unmanageable unless healthcare is being strengthened and prepared accordingly with its maximum capacity.
Furthermore, they said, without adequate PPE, health care workers will get sick, endangering the functioning of the entire health care system. The human and economic costs of that scenario should not be underestimated.
Professor Nazrul Islam of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and Member of National Technical Committee to contain coronavirus told The New Nation on Thursday, "We obviously need important logistic supports like equipment for Covid-19 hospitals and testing laboratories from China rather than their expertise right now."
He, however, said it is sure that China has gathered vast experiences that how to tackle the spreading of coronavirus. But in the last months we also have some experiences. Besides, we have necessary health experts also who can advise the government and work for restrain the spreading of the virus in our country.
In these circumstances, the national committee will recommend to the government to ask more logistics support, more necessary equipment like ventilators from China as the country is willing to assist us in this ground.
Dr. Shahed Rafi Pavel, Chairman of Bangladesh Doctors Foundation told The New Nation on Thursday, "Sharing Chinese experience of fighting coronavirus might be helpful for us. We can get understand how could we curb the spreading of coronavirus through lockdown. But it is sure that we have necessary experts in our country."
Dr. Pavel said, "Hospitals of our country are now suffering from want of sufficient ventilators, ICU beds and central supplied oxygen facilities. As our development partner China could provide us such logistic supports."
He said, most of our hospitals have no central oxygen supply system. The serious Covid-19 patients mostly suffer from respiratory problems. Those patients needs 15-20 liter oxygen daily.
"But supply of oxygen from the cylinder is not sufficient. So, we can seek Chinese assistance to get necessary equipment supply in this hard time," Dr. Pavel said.
A Health Ministry official, however, said that the Chinese team would bring medical equipment with them as a goodwill gesture.
He claimed both public and private sectors increased beds and critical care medical devices across the country's hospitals to handle the corona pandemic.

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