Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury has said coronavirus infections and deaths are on the rise due to mismanagements in the medical sector.
"Covid-19 kills just the infected, but the government is destroying the patients' whole family with the huge medical bills," he told a press conference in Dhaka Thursday.
According to the health activist, government's mismanagements, lack of accountability and recklessness have resulted in the ongoing situation.
Mentioning 39% tax is levied even on a needle used in intensive care unit (ICU), Zafrullah said, "Per day treatment at an ICU costs Tk30,000 to Tk2.5 lakh as there is also a tax on antiseptic and disinfectant. The medical billing bankrupts families."
He said, "Instead of considering people's affordability of the medical services, the government keeps planning ICU equipment purchase. These do not help the citizens, except the firms that are being awarded the purchasing contracts without any tender."
He said people are dealing with the pandemic on their own as the government's measures at different times to curb the infections did not show effectiveness.
"If a lockdown is enforced without providing the poor with food, then they ultimately would starve to death. But the government has not had its plan ready in advance. How would we control the situation if it deteriorates further?" Zafrullah said.
At the press conference, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, executive director of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), said as a citizen, they can never deny the reality.
"The pandemic management has turned into a complete chaos, and it could collapse anytime," she commented.
Junaid Saki, chief coordinator of Gono Sanghati Andolon, said the government had a shortcoming in pandemic preparations.
"The focus should be on how the pandemic could be dealt with efficiently, but the government was indifferent. It suppressed the virus information and there was a laxity all around," added the leftist leader.
Dhaka University law Professor Asif Nazrul questioned how the ongoing weeklong lockdown was enforced.
"Did the government want to decentralise the Covid-19 deaths as it allowed people to travel in droves to their villages before the stay-at-home order? Many people went to the villages after contracting the virus," said the Dhaka University teacher.
Asif Nazrul commented that people pay the tax, but they do not get the state's support at times of need since the government lacks accountability.
Among others, former Dhaka University Central Students' Union Vice-President Nurul Haque Nur, Jatiyatabadi Muktijoddha Dal President Ishtiaq Aziz, gallant Freedom Fighter Noim Jahangir, Didarul Islam Bhuiyan and Sadia Arman spoke on the occasion.