Panic-stricken people with fever are rushing to hospitals in increasing numbers for getting their blood tested, as the spread of dengue becomes more extensive within and across the country.
Hospitals within and across the country, including those in Dhaka, have been facing a crisis of dengue test kits due to this rush of panic-stricken people with fever. In many instances, hospital authorities have not been able to perform dengue tests on patients due to lack of test kits.
The authorities at Dhaka Community Medical College Hospital have postponed dengue tests on people for the last two days due to test kit crisis. Numerous hospitals outside Dhaka, including Rangpur Medical College Hospital in Rangpur and Sher-e- Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barishal, have been facing the same situation.
Physicians at the hospitals in Dhaka, Gazipur, Sylhet, and Barishal, among others, say, as the disease becomes more intense and its spread more extensive, the panic-stricken individuals have been rushing to hospitals all over the country for having their blood tested, which ultimately resulted in the shortage of kits.
SM Kamrul Akter, assistant director at the Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital in Dhaka, told The Business Standard that the number of dengue patients is increasing by day. “To make things worse, people suffering from fever for even a day are going for the NS1 test, which seems to be the primary contributor to the kit crisis,” he added.
Upon further inquiry, it has been learnt that in all public and private hospitals of Barishal, NS1 tests have remained postponed since Thursday due to non-availability of kits, causing serious problems for the patients.
At the Barishal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital, the number of dengue patients has been increasing by the day. In last 24 hours, 35 dengue patients were admitted to the hospital; these patients had to return without getting dengue tests done due to lack of kits.
Dr SM Bakir Hossain, director at the hospital, told The Business Standard that NS1 kit and glucose saline are presently unavailable in the hospital, resulting in the postponement of NS1 test. The hospital authority informed the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) about the matter, he said, while adding: Staff from the hospital has also been sent to Dhaka to bring the required test kits, as he hoped that NS1 kit will reach Barishal by Sunday.
Dengue screening tests have remained postponed at Rangpur Medical College Hospital, owing to kit crisis. Rajshahi Medical College Hospital has also been going through a lack of test kits on the face of an increasing number of patients.
Most of the dengue patients in Sylhet have been infected by the disease while they were in Dhaka, with only a few of them infected within the local environment; so there is no scarcity of kits at hospitals in Sylhet. Dr Debapada Roy, Sylhet Divisional health official, said that a crisis of kits may occur during the upcoming Eid-ul-Adha.
Dengue tests at Gazipur Shaheed Tajuddin Ahmad Medical College Hospital would be postponed from Monday, if test kits are not available by Sunday. Pranay Bhusan Da, resident medical officer (RMO) at the hospital, said that many individuals have been coming to the hospital for dengue test. He said, they can conduct dengue tests for one more day with the available kits.
Dr MM Akhtaruzzaman, deputy programme manager at the Communicable Disease Control of DGHS, said that they have been working on the prevailing crisis of non-availability of dengue test kits and re-agents. He said, many people have been coming to the hospitals for dengue tests out of panic and fear, even when they do not seem to have any symptom of the disease.
Dr MM Akhtaruzzaman said, the kit crisis has been created by increased demand for dengue tests. He said, the procurement process to purchase kits is underway. He said, the Directorate General of Drug Administration has been working on it, hoping that the problem would be solved soon.
Mehedi Hasan, an official at the Directorate of Drug Administration said, 107,800 kits have been imported in last three days. He said, the directorate has a plan to buy 1.61 crore kits, as the disease has further intensified and become more extensive, adding that the test kit supply situation may become normal in next three to four days.
Fines on 13 hospitals for taking extra fees for dengue test
The DGHS, on July 28, fixed fees for dengue tests in private hospitals. The maximum fee for NS1 test has been fixed at Tk500, while the maximum fees for CBC, IgM, and IgG have been fixed at Tk400, Tk400, and Tk500.
Drives have been going on to monitor if the fees fixed by the government are being followed by the hospitals. So far, 13 hospitals in different parts of the country have been fined for charging more fees.
Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP), RAB mobile courts, and district administrations have been conducting drives on the hospitals.
Tk6.85 lakh have been received from these 13 hospitals as fine for taking extra fees for dengue tests.
Sarwar Alam, RAB Executive Magistrate, said that drives against the hospitals for charging extra fee for dengue tests are still on. Fine and other actions will be taken against the hospitals, if they charge anything extra for the tests over the rate fixed by the government.
DGHS raises dengue death toll to 18
The Directorate General of Health Services confirmed four more deaths from dengue. According to the DGHS, so far, 18 individuals have died of dengue this year.
Dr Ayesha Akter, assistant director at DGHS Emergency Health Service and Control Room, told The Business Standard that the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has confirmed four more deaths, adding that the death toll now stands at 18.
However, according to the unofficial sources the figure is around 55.
DGHS Control Room statistics says, 1,649 individuals have been affected by dengue in last 24 hours. Presently, 6,858 dengue-infected patients are being treated at different hospitals within and across the country. The number of dengue patients in 64 districts outside Dhaka now stands at 4,905.