The death of doctors from Covid-19 is on the rise again.
As many as 11 physicians died of the disease in just 16 days of April, while the death toll was six in three months since January. Until now, Covid-19 claimed the lives of 145 physicians in the country.
Of them, the family of only one doctor received compensation declared by the government.
While new variants of the coronavirus are more contagious, hospitals are not conducting triage properly and are not giving much importance to the usage of protective equipment, increasing the infection rate and death of doctors, experts say.
The number of Covid-infected doctors will rise with the surge in transmission of the disease in the country because they have to get in close contact with patients, said Ehteshamul Huq Choudhury, general secretary of the Bangladesh Medical Association.
Doctors are not wearing PPE diligently, he said, adding that except for a handful of big hospitals, healthcare facilities had not put in place a mechanism to triage patients. That increases the risk of infection transmission to doctors through surgeries and treatment for health complaints not related to Covid to yet-to-be-identified-Covid patients, Ehteshamul said.
Since the infection rate has shot up, doctors should consider all patients as Covid patients and take enough protective measures while providing treatment. "The death of so many doctors in a matter of one year is an irreparable loss," Ehteshamul said.
Professor Nazrul Islam, noted virologist and member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, told The Business Standard that the pressure of Covid patients in hospitals had mounted.
Since doctors and nurses are highly exposed to the virus, they are getting infected, he said, adding that hospital wards should have ventilation so that the risk of Covid transmission from viral shedding by infected patients is reduced.
Moreover, healthcare providers should be more cautious about using PPE.
The first death of a doctor from Covid-19 was recorded on 15 April last year.
In June 2020, 45 doctors, the highest so far, died of the disease. The highest daily death figure of doctors was 5 on 4 June.
The death rate of physicians had come down since September 2020, only to climb up again this month.
According to the Medical Association, as many as 2,910 doctors have so far fallen sick with Covid-19 across the country until 15 April. The number of infected nurses is 1,998 and healthcare workers is 3,295.
Compensations not given yet
Over the last one year, the family of only one doctor received Tk 50 lakh in compensation after he died of Covid-19.
Doctors, nurses and healthcare staff directly involved in Covid treatment have also not received a one-time special allowance equivalent to one's two-month basic salary that the government promised to pay as incentives.
Paying incentives to healthcare workers during the pandemic is not a waste of money. If they do not get incentives as declared, they will become frustrated and that will impact healthcare
Ehteshamul said the finance ministry had allocated funds for the purpose but the health ministry took long to prepare the list of beneficiaries.
"Paying incentives to healthcare workers during the pandemic is not a waste of money. If they do not get incentives as declared, they will become frustrated and that will impact healthcare.
"Doctors are losing motivation for working at a stretch. We would appeal to the authority to pay compensation and incentives quickly to inspire doctors."