Around 1am on 17 April, the oxygen saturation of Neyamul Alam Chowdhury, a resident of Nazir Bari in Ward 10, suddenly fell due to Covid-19 and doctors advised giving him oxygen immediately. His family could not decide on where to get oxygen so late at night.
Neyamul's nephew told the family about a post on Facebook about Mostafa Hakim Foundation's initiative of providing oxygen cylinders.
"We went to Mostafa Hakim College from where oxygen cylinders were being supplied and got a cylinder. When my uncle recovered, I returned the cylinder on 21 April. My uncle's condition could have been worse without the oxygen that day," said the nephew, Abrar Ali Chowdhury.
Mostafa-Hakim Foundation launched the initiative to provide medical oxygen free of cost for the treatment of Covid-affected people in Chattogram following an increase in the demand for oxygen.
The foundation launched the service with 500 oxygen cylinders.
Its volunteers deliver oxygen cylinders to patients' homes as soon as they receive a call.
The foundation has also introduced oxygen banks in the offices of 15 ward councillors of the city. But anyone from other areas can avail of the service by showing an identity card. A patient can take more than one oxygen cylinder if needed.
Mohammad Sarwar Alam, director of the Mostafa-Hakim Foundation, said, "We have launched the service – like last year – due to the increase in Covid-19 cases. We have 500 cylinders that are refilled at our factory free of cost. Anyone who needs will get an oxygen cylinder if they call."
Sarwar said if the demand for oxygen increases, the foundation will get more representatives for other wards.
"Unfortunately, many people do not bring back the cylinders without any reason. We will tell them not to do it unless necessary because in that case we will not be able to provide others in an emergency," he said in light of last year's experience.
Like Neyamul, Professor Dr Mohammad Asif of the Chattogram University of Engineering and Technology has also benefited from the foundation.
His friend Bipul Chakma said, "Asif was infected with Covid-19 early April and he needed oxygen. I took oxygen cylinders from the Mostafa Hakim Foundation. I refilled the cylinders five times and without any cost."
"I cannot express my gratitude towards the foundation for its cooperation in this crisis moment," he added.
When the Covid-19 outbreak increased last year, Mostafa Hakim Foundation imported 1,000 cylinders from China for Tk1.1 crore for the people of Chattogram.
Of these, 500 cylinders were brought in by plane on an emergency basis. The remaining 500 cylinders were brought by waterways. Cylinder banks were established in each of 41 wards of the port city.
The foundation is also supplying cylinders to remote upazilas including Hathazari, Sitakund and Sandwip as well as providing free oxygen to various public and private hospitals in the city.
Meanwhile, Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) has also initiated setting up oxygen banks in every police station where oxygen cylinder can be availed and refilled free of cost.
CMP spokesperson Additional Deputy Commissioner Shah Mohammad Abdur Rauf said, "The initiative officially started on Wednesday in 16 police stations of the city with three oxygen cylinders each. More oxygen cylinders will be brought in the future as per demand. We have some stocks of oxygen cylinders in our central oxygen bank.