Gonoshasthaya Kendra is taking the hospital to patients to make treatment accessible before it is too late and affordable for Covid patients in the capital, in a step further to ease the healthcare burden.
It has received hundreds of calls since the programme was launched on 29 April. Three mobile teams collect 10-12 samples for Covid test a day, of which three-four samples come positive.
At present, 15 Covid patients are undergoing treatment in the mobile healthcare programme.
Residents can call up hotline numbers (01713941359, 01732272026, 01703808946) to contact doctors if they have any symptoms, such as fever, cough and breathing distress.
When a person is suspected of having Covid-19 infection, a team of seven health professionals will arrive at their doorstep to check on them. Samples for Covid test and other medical examinations will be taken to Gonoshasthaya laboratory and the results will be sent back to prescribe treatment.
Charges for medical examinations are set at Tk6,800, including Tk2,500 for Covid test. If the patient needs a chest X-ray, a portable machine will be carried to their home.
Medicines are delivered for free. An oxygen cylinder will be set up at the patient's home if they feel breathing distress and the cylinder will be refilled when required.
The infected people, if willing, may continue to seek suggestions and treatment from designated doctors of Gonoshasthaya that has earned a reputation as a private organisation for its contribution to affordable healthcare.
The move comes around the time when public health experts and physicians are worried over the possibility of an explosion of infections in Bangladesh after virulent and contagious strains of the virus have wreaked havoc across the border in West Bengal, India.
A second wave has already been sweeping over the country, having claimed the highest number of deaths in a month – 2,347 – in April. The daily average death was 81, double the death toll recorded in the peak of the first wave last July.
"When hospitals get overwhelmed with patients, people panic. We are here to assure people that they will get treatment at home even if hospitals fall short of beds," said Dr Shawkat Arman, who has been coordinating the Covid treatment.
More teams will join the initiative with time. "We are now assessing the need," Arman said.
The teams train one of the family members of Covid patients to monitor health parameters, such as blood pressure and oxygen saturation level.
"We have not yet come across any critical case. We think many people will have a better chance of recovering fast and not becoming severely ill if they get early diagnosis and treatment," Arman said.
Other healthcare facilities could replicate the move taken by Gonoshasthaya in reducing the burden of treatment on Covid hospitals whenever there is a flare-up of infections again, he added.