The pandemic-led closure of Chattogram's Imperial Hospital cardiac unit has been causing prolonged suffering for people with long-term heart conditions.
The hospital authorities said they are uncertain when the cardiac unit will resume operations.
The 375-bed Imperial Hospital in Chattogram began its journey last year at a time when the number of Bangladeshis going to neighbouring India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia for better medical care was on the rise.
Imperial Hospital Chairman Dr Rabiul Husain said prior to the pandemic, their cardiac unit specialists had selected 160 patients for bypass surgeries, stent implants, and other surgeries and procedures.
But, those medical procedures were postponed, while around 2,000 regular cardiac patients also failed to get their routine check-ups done.
We are unsure when the situation will improve and when we will be able to run the hospital
Dr Rabiul said, "We are unsure when the situation will improve and when we will be able to run the hospital. We did not think the situation would take such a long time to normalise."
Last February, the hospital launched its 65-bed modern cardiac unit in collaboration with India's Narayana Health. The unit had 51 medical personnel, 26 of whom were from Narayana Health Kolkata.
Narayana Health Chairman and renowned Indian cardiac surgeon Devi Shetty was in direct supervision of the unit.
But soon after the inauguration, the Indian doctors had to leave Bangladesh due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. The private hospital subsequently joined the Covid-19 treating facilities in Chattogram.
Though the virus situation in the port city has since improved, the Indian medical team has been unable to return to Bangladesh as regular flights and other transportation networks between the two countries remain suspended.
Dr Rabiul Husain told The Business Standard that cardiac patients were constantly getting in touch to find out when the unit would resume.
Dr Rabiul said most of their patients used to go to Indian hospitals in Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai for treatment before launching the cardiac unit. Additionally, patients who had received treatment from Narayana Health units in India were also periodically contacting them for their medical follow-ups.
The hospital has been closed for months…neither can I travel to India because flights are suspended
"They are now suffering as they cannot avail treatment here, nor can they travel to India," he added.
Cardiac patient Abu Bakar from the city's Zamal Khan area used to avail treatment at the private hospital.
"The hospital has been closed for months…neither can I travel to India because flights are suspended. In the interest of the patients, we urge the government to immediately resume flights to and from India," he told The Business Standard.