Shafiqul Islam, a private job holder, was recently released from Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) after being treated for Covid-19 symptoms. Luckily, he tested negative for the deadly virus.
His hospital experience, however, is not pleasant. He requested people to not get him admitted to hospital for coronavirus treatment unless all possible efforts had failed.
He said doctors and nurses could hardly be seen around the Covid-19 patients' wards.
"Nobody is there to help you. You will not even get help by offering to pay. After being admitted to hospital, the battle turns harder than before. You have to fight on your own," said Shafiqul.
He expressed anger and disappointment over doctors' conduct in a situation when a patient was between life and death.
"Why are we paying them if they hesitate to provide the service during such a crisis? Who will save the patients if trained and professional people become scared?" he asked.
But the DMCH authorities claimed that doctors and nurses were giving the required services to the patients.
"It is the safety protocol of a doctor to maintain a distance from Covid-19 patients. The more distance he maintains, the safer he is," Director of the hospital Brigadier General AKM Nasir Uddin told The Business Standard.
'The pandemic will hit us disastrously if doctors contract the virus," he added.
The government has announced a stimulus package for doctors besides their regular payments to encourage them to provide the required health services during the pandemic. The package includes health insurance of Tk5-10 lakh depending on ranks. The amount will be five times higher if anyone is at higher risk of death or dies of the virus.
"What to do? Who to ask for help?"
Khalilur Rahman is another Covid-19 patient, who recovered recently after spending 18 days in isolation at the Kurmitola General Hospital. He also shared his shocking and disheartening experience of what he had encountered there.
"Life in the Covid-19 ward is like a man who has lost his way and then discovered himself in a desert where no help is available. Nobody is there to give him direction about what he needs to do," said Khalilur.
He said most of the patients do not get even the basic facilities, including mosquito nets, water, and bedsheet. As a result, patients endure mosquito bites.
"Nurses are always in a hurry when a shift is about to end. They only pay a visit when doctors are around. And doctors visit patients only once a day," Khalilur recalled.
However, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) denied these allegations and claimed that patients were given the highest treatment possible.
"Doctors and nurses are dedicatedly working to help patients recover in all hospitals, including the Kurmitola General Hospital," Dr Aminul Hasan, director (hospital and clinic) of DGHS, told The Business Standard.
Not enough oxygen support
Oxygen support is a very important part of Covid-19 treatment. But patients in hospitals that do not have a central oxygen supply system, including the Kurmitola General Hospital, are gravely suffering due to lack of this service.
"Most of the fatalities occurred due to poor oxygen supply," a doctor told The Business Standard requesting anonymity.
He said patients are told about many problems whenever they ask for oxygen support after experiencing breathing difficulties.
"Hospitals do not have oxygen cylinders. There are leaks in cylinders or nurses sometimes provide oxygen from nearly empty cylinders," the physician said.
He said only patients who are aware of this and have relatives to assist them can get oxygen support.
But Dr Aminul Hasan of DGHS said this was no true.
"Every hospital where Covid-19 patients are being treated has adequate oxygen supply."