Home Country Neither handwashing, nor social distancing

Neither handwashing, nor social distancing

by Istiak Ahmed Shimul

Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital (SBMCH) in Barishal — one of the major healthcare centres in the country’s southern region — lacks handwashing facilities for visitors at outpatient departments that have seen a swelling crowd in recent times,  increasing the risk of rapid transmission of coronavirus from there amid the second wave.

Moreover, other health directives, including social distancing, are also being violated blatantly at the hospital.

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The SBMCH authorities, however, blamed lack of infrastructural facilities and shortage of manpower for such a situation.

During a recent visit to hospital, this correspondent found hundreds of people gathered at the outpatient department on the ground floor. They were huddling and most of them had no masks on. The hand-washing setup that were put in place after the Covid-19 outbreak are all out of order.

A patient said, “The coronavirus ward is not cleaned regularly. Water taps and bathroom fittings have been broken… Even plaster is falling off the stairs at the ward. There is no one to take care of this ward, which is full of garbage.”

Sinks and water taps that were set up at around 20-25 points in and outside the hospital last year could not be seen. 

Hospital staff said some of those got damaged and some were stolen.

Dr Moniruzaman Shaheen, in-charge of the ward, said SBMCH was established in 1968. At that time, there were 136 doctors against the approval of 224 physicians for 360 beds, he said.

At present, new wards have been included including the one for Covid-19, said Shaheen. The number of seats at the Covid ward has increased from 1,000 to 1,150, but the manpower has remained the same, he added.

As a result, health services and cleaning activities are being hampered, said Dr Shaheen.

He said the number of Covid-19 patients at the hospital on March 12 was only 19. On April 5, the figure was as many as 106, he added. On average, 20 to 25 patients were admitted to the hospital every day. “If this situation continues, it will not be possible to admit patients within two to three days,” he told this correspondent yesterday.

Dr Abdur Razzak, acting director of the hospital, told The Daily Star, “We have informed the Department of Public Works to set up sinks again. Due to manpower shortage, we cannot ensure hygiene for around 3,000-4,000 outdoor and 1,500 indoor patients who are receiving services every day.”

Last year, visitors without masks were barred from entering the hospital, and after entry service seekers had to maintain physical distance. This year, those health directives are completely absent there. When asked about it, the acting director said they are looking into the matter.

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