53 hospitals to get 540 ICU beds – The Business Standard


In July last year, Billal Sardar of Madaripur had severe respiratory problems after being infected with Covid-19. At one point, his health condition got so critical that he needed to be shifted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) urgently. Since there was no ICU in the district, his family decided to take him to Dhaka Medical College. Unfortunately, he died on the way. His family believes his life could have been saved if there had been ICU services at the district hospital.
To ensure that no one else suffers the same fate due to a lack of ICUs in district hospitals like Billal Sardar, the government is setting up 540 ICU beds in 10 medical college hospitals and 43 district hospitals under the World Bank’s Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness (ERPP) project.
Ten ICU beds will be set up in each of 43 hospitals.
The project will also provide training to 3,500 health workers on acquiring modern skills and knowledge. The ICU service is scheduled to be launched in phases by May and August this year. 
The ten medical college hospitals are in Barishal, Khulna, Tangail, Faridpur, Sylhet, Bogura, Manikganj, Cumilla, Dinajpurand Dhaka.
After many Covid-19 patients died due to a lack of ICUs in the first wave of the pandemic in the country, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued a directive on setting up ICUs in every district town at the Ecnec (Executive Committee of the National Economic Council) meeting on 2 June 2020.
ERPP Project Director Dr Shah Golam Nabi Tuhin told The Business Standard (TBS) that no new building will be constructed under the project. Only existing buildings will be renovated. As there is no scope for renovation in 19 districts, the Public Works Department has surveyed and identified 43 districts where renovation can be done. Initially, ICUs were supposed to be set up in 64 district hospitals.
However, outside the project, ICU beds have been set up and expanded in various hospitals with the government’s revenue budget, according to the health department.
The health authorities said renovation of buildings in the district hospitals at Tangail, Cumilla, Noakhali, Jashore, Gopalganj, Munshiganj, Bagerhat, Chuadanga, Sunamganj, Sherpur, Narayanganj, Feni and Madaripur will be completed by 30 April. ICUs will be launched in 13 district hospitals in mid-May.
In the 13 district hospitals of Kushtia, Dinajpur, Sirajganj, Barguna, Nilphamari, Magura, Thankurgaon, Bhola, Natore, Panchagarh, Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat, Chapainawabganj and Jhenaidah, ICUs will be available by June-July.
However, places for setting up ICUs have not been decided yet in 16 district hospitals, including in Rangamati, Bandarban, Khagrachhari, Rajbari, Narail, Khulna, Mekharpur, Jhalokati, Pirojpur, Lakshmipur, Sylhet, Shariatpur, Joypurhat, Narsingdi, Netrokona and Moulvibazar. As such, ICUs in these districts will be launched by August. 
In the meantime, the construction of five ICU beds at Infectious Diseases Hospital in Dhaka and BITID in Chattogram has been completed.
Dr Golam Nabi Tuhin said the process of purchasing ICU equipment has begun. ICU beds and accessories have already been sent to eight medical colleges.
Besides providing services to Covid-19 patients, these ICUs will reduce difficulties and costs in the treatment of any other disease,” he added.
Professor Dr Ahmedul Kabir, additional director general (administration) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told TBS that doctors, nurses and other manpower will be recruited to manage the ICUs. If ICUs are constructed at the district level, patients will not have to come to Dhaka for emergency treatment.
According to DGHS data, there are 1,262 ICU beds across the country. Of them, 773 are in Dhaka metropolitan and 64 in Chattogram metro areas. Besides the divisional cities and medical colleges, only six district hospitals now have only 30 ICU beds.
ICU beds / Intensive Care Unit / ICU / District Hospitals
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