The government is planning to set up 100-bed burn units jointly with Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) at five medical college hospitals each outside Dhaka to provide speedy treatment of burn injury.
The project would add 500 burn unit beds at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, Rangpur Medical College Hospital, Faridpur Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical College Hospital, Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital and Barisal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital.
Each of the 100-bed units would include 10 incentive care units (ICU), eight high-dependency units (HDU), 10 cabins and 36 beds, two operation theatres and one emergency operation theatre.
Dr Samanta Lal Sen, coordinator of the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery, told The Business Standard, "The project is expected to be discussed by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on 8 December. The estimated cost of the project is Tk253 crore."
Meanwhile, in a letter sent on 25 November, the Economic Relations Division of the Ministry of Finance directed the Ecnec to take necessary steps to approve the project soon.
According to the letter, a loan agreement worth $30 million was signed between the government and Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) on 7 October 2017 to implement the project with a grace period of five years.
The letter further mentioned that the government is losing the benefits of the grace period as the DPP of the project has not been approved even after four years of signing the agreement.
Besides, if the implementation of the project is delayed, the expenditure will increase, the letter said.
The loan agreement would expire on 31 December 2022.
However, on 28 September, the DPP was sent to the Ecnec from the Planning Commission for approval.
Meanwhile, Planning Commission sources said that the project has been put on the preliminary list to be presented at the Ecnec meeting to be held on 7 December.
People concerned said the project would reduce suffering of burn patients at the divisional level as there are not enough burn unit beds there.
At present, Covid-19 patients are being treated in the burn unit of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital and burn patients are being treated in 14 beds of the surgery ward.
Brigadier General Shamim Yazdani, director of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, said, "We cannot treat burn patients because of infrastructural problems despite having enough doctors and nurses. We refer these patients to the Burn Institute. But the new 100-bed burn unit would solve the problem."
The 50-bed burn unit in Barisal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital was run by only one doctor. But the unit was closed after the death of Dr MA Azad Sajal, the head of the Department of Burn and Plastic Surgery, on 28 April last year. Now, the hospital has to refer burn patients to Dhaka.
Meanwhile, Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital currently has a 12-bed burn unit, Rangpur Medical College Hospital has a 16-bed burn unit of which four beds are currently unusable. Faridpur Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical College Hospital has no burn unit.
Dr Samanta Lal Sen said, "Burn patients from all over the country come to our hospital. The first 24 hours after the burn incident is very important for these patients. We call this time the Golden Hour. Deaths can be prevented if there are burn units at the division or district level."