Since Bangladesh first detected novel coronavirus in the country on March 8, the government has installed just 190 ventilators in 15 different government hospitals, although demand for them has skyrocketed during this time.
Now the total number of ventilators – a key medical device in the fight against the novel coronavirus – in 42 government hospitals is 559.
Relatives often complain that their Covid-19 patients do not get ventilator support despite emergencies.
Several private companies – including Walton – want to produce ventilators, but they are still at the clinical trial stage.
Uday Hakim, executive director of the Walton Group, said, "Our manufactured ventilators have been submitted to the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) for clinical trials, and we expect results next week. Then we will submit it to the Department of Drug Administration."
"We expect to go into production in July after completing all procedures," he added.
To meet the high demand, the government has taken an initiative to import 450 ventilators by the Central Medicine Stores Depot (CMSD). It has already collected quotations and convened a meeting of its purchase committee on Wednesday to finalise the matter and issue work orders to suppliers.
Sources at the Health Services Division and the CMSD said each ventilator will cost Tk20 lakh on average, and the total price for 450 units will be Tk90 crore. They expect the ventilators will arrive within three months after the issuance of a work order.
Zakir Hossen Khan, deputy director of CMSD, told The Business Standard, "We have taken an initiative to import 450 ventilators."
The government has taken another initiative to import 200 ventilators under the Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness project – which may arrive in July.
Habibur Rahman Khan, additional secretary at the Health Services Division and a focal point for the media coordination cell, said, "We have taken various initiatives to import ventilators but we have yet to decide on the number."
However, it will take time to import ventilators as the demand has increased in all countries.
The government has started setting up central oxygen tanks or vacuum insulated evaporators (VIEs) in 26 hospitals to alleviate the oxygen supply crisis, and the installation will be finished this month.
After installation, the VIEs will ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply for around 12,000 novel coronavirus patients through ventilators – without a need for cylinders.
On Sunday, the National Electro-Medical Equipment Maintenance Workshop (NEMEMW)'s Chief Technical Manager Md Aminur Rahman told The Business Standard that there are 559 ventilators at 42 government hospitals.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak in Bangladesh, the government has installed 190 ventilators in 15 different government hospitals under the supervision of the NEMEMW, he added.
A health ministry official said of the 559 ventilators, Dhaka Medical college Hospital has 55, National Neurosciences Institute 40, and the National Heart Institute 30.
Among others, 26 ventilators are at the Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Hospital, 22 at the Kurmitola General Hospital, 20, each, at the Mugda Medical College Hospital, Sheikh Hasina National Burn Unit and Rajshahi Medical College Hospital.
The Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute and Hospital and Faridpur Medical College Hospital have 16 ventilators each.