The health ministry is going to import High-Flow Nasal Cannula (HFNC) and oxygen cylinders to meet the medical needs of Covid-19 patients with respiratory issues.
Ministry officials have already talked to some suppliers for an emergency import of these important materials. However, no work order has been awarded to any supplier yet.
HFNC therapy can supply oxygen to the patient's body without a ventilator. It is an oxygen supply system capable of delivering up to hundred percent humidified and heated oxygen at a flow rate of up to 60 litres per minute.
Through this means, the patients' breathing problems are relieved even after getting an oxygen support for a short period of time, said Dr Raushan Ara Begum, a member of the national technical advisory committee to check COVID-19.
She said that HFNC is now urgent in Bangladeshi hospitals due to an increasing number of Covid-19 patients.
Habibur Rahman Khan, additional secretary and the focal point of the health ministry media cell, said, "We will import 500 oxygen cylinders. But, it is still undecided how much HFNC will be imported."
When asked about how soon the import will be possible, he said they are unsure about that.
Because, the demand for these materials has increased all over the world. However, efforts are being made to import them as soon as possible, he said.
Health ministry officials said the materials would be imported without inviting tenders due to the urgent need.
On Thursday last, several importers and suppliers were called on to the ministry and their bids were sought. One supplier initially proposed Tk12 lakh for each set of HFNC but later brought it down to Tk9 lakh.
At that time, the members of the technical committee said the price of each HFNC set is Tk3.5 lakh, and that Green Life Hospital, recently, bought it at this price. However, the suppliers did not agree.
According to health experts, around 82 percent of novel coronavirus patients recover just staying in isolation without needing any treatment. However, some 15 percent of the remaining 18 percent of patients suffer from respiratory problems and require a high flow of oxygen to survive.
Dr Asadul Mazid Nomaan, a physician at Mugda Medical College Hospital's intensive care unit, said conditions of Covid-19 patients could deteriorate in the absence of oxygen support.
"The patients in intensive care beds of the hospital are not facing problems with central oxygen support. However, those in general wards are suffering from a lack of such facilities," Dr Asadul told The Business Standard.