Giving oxygen support to Covid-19 patients is crucial as they frequently suffer from breathing problems.
Health experts said only an uninterrupted oxygen supply can save the lives of most such patients. However, there is no central oxygen supply system in most novel coronavirus-dedicated hospitals.
Moreover, 39 government hospitals in the country do not have such supply systems, according to a health ministry letter.
Therefore, the ministry wrote to National Electro Medical Equipment Maintenance, Workshop, and Training Centre (NEMEMW), asking it to install liquid oxygen tanks in the government hospitals on an emergency basis to ensure a nonstop supply there.
Two Covid-19 hospitals – Mugda Medical College Hospital and the Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Hospital – have been included on the list of 39 hospitals.
Health experts said 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 live.
Dr Fazle Rabbi, medicine and infectious diseases expert at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said the high flow of oxygen through a central supply system is needed to save novel coronavirus patients. If there is no central oxygen support, oxygen masks need to be available.
As oxygen in cylinders given to Covid-19 patients runs out quickly, hospital staffers and nurses need to refill them repeatedly, which is a challenging job for them as they have to wear personal protective equipment, he added.
When contacted, Habibur Rahman Khan, convener of the health media cell and additional secretary (administration) at the Health Services Division, told The Business Standard that the whole world is now going through a medical emergency. The number of Covid-19 patients is also on the rise in our country. The NEMEMW will not be able to install central oxygen supply systems in the hospitals for now, even if we stipulate a time limit for it. However, liquid oxygen tanks will be installed in the hospitals as soon as possible."
There are eighteen medical college hospitals, sixteen 250-bed hospitals and five specialised hospitals with no liquid oxygen tanks, as mentioned in the letter.
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.