Physicians and other health workers who are among the front line heroes serving patients down with coronavirus are likely to be rewarded by the government as the Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) on Saturday demanded that the authorities must ensure health insurance for the medics and take responsibility if there is death on duty.
Md Habibur Rahman Khan, additional secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told the daily sun that "The government has a plan as to how the doctors, nurses and medical technologists who are involved in handling the covid-19 patients can be rewarded."He however said the government is now prioritising the steps to tackle the coronavirus situation of the country.
“The covid-19 is a deadly disease, a number of doctors and nurses died in many countries already in fighting the virus. In this situation, our doctors, nurses, health technologists and other health staffs are making hectic efforts to tackle the emergency humanitarian situation,” Nasima Sultana, Additional Director General (ADG) of Directorate general of Health Services (DGHS) told the daily sun.
In a related development, Dr Ehteshamul Haque Chowdhury, secretary-general of (BMA) told the daily sun “The doctors’ profession is a noble profession. We come to the profession setting up our minds that we may be infected by any type of infectious disease in handling patients. It is a work involving high risk.”
He said the doctors have to work as the frontline fighters against the deadly coronavirus. “The nation already observed how the doctors earlier fought against the country’s dengue situation, taking risks and this time they are also working against covid-19, an infectious disease,” he added.
“We demand that the government gives life insurance and incentive package for the frontline fighters , including doctors, nurses, medical technologists and other medical staffs, members of different forces and journalists,” said Chowdhury.
He further said the government has to take responsibility of any death of medical staff in handling the coronavirus.The government has already cancelled all types of leave of all the officials and employees under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to tackle the coronavirus situation in the country.
Nasima Sultana said the DGHS have been giving training to other doctors and nurses medical technologists regularly to provide service for the confirmed and suspected covid-19 patients.
“Our doctors, nurses and other health staffs are not taking any type of leave and they have been working relentlessly to tackle the coronavirus situation,” she added.
Addressing a virtual press conference about coronavirus situation of the country, Prof Dr Meerjadey Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) on Saturday said “At present, the total number of covid-19 patient stands so far at 70, death toll rises to eight. On the other hand, four more patients have recovered, taking the recovery number to 30.”
At the same briefing, Prof Abul Kalam Azad said 12,779 doctors of the country have already taken training about coronavirus while 2068 doctors of them are volunteers to fight with the virus.
“A number of trained physicians are giving treatment in hospitals for the coronavirus while around 2100 physicians are giving treatment by hotline of the DGHS and IEDCR regularly,” he added.
Talking to the daily sun, Prof Dr. Saif Ullah Munshi, Chairman of Department of Virology of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) said the medical staffs including doctors, nurses, and health technologists who are involved in handling covid-19 patients are definitely in risk of getting infected. “These medics are definitely working putting their lives at risk. The government should ensure life insurance for them,” he added.
The UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) said health workers are at the front line of the COVID-19 outbreak response and as such are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection. Hazards include pathogen exposure, long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, stigma, and physical and psychological violence.
Sharif Jamil, General Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) said “The doctors and health workers are the real heroes across the globe currently under the brutal attack of COVID-19. But our doctors without proper arms and ammunition have been risking their lives and fighting this invisible enemy.”
According to the DGHS, Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government hospital, Kurmitola General Hospital and Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute and Hospital have been turned into dedicated hospitals for the coronavirus patients.
Meanwhile, many other hospitals of Dhaka city and medical college hospitals and general hospitals are also providing treatment to the coronavirus patients outside the capital across the country.
Around three doctors and two nurses were infected with coronavirus so far.
The IEDCR, IPH, ICCDR,B, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, CHRF & SH, BSMMU, ideSHI, Dhaka Medical College and National Institute of Laboratory Medicine in Dhaka and Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (BITID) in Chattragram, Mymensingh Medical College, Rajshahi Medical College, Rangpur Medical College and Cox’s Bazaar Medical college are carrying out coronavirus test.
A large number of physicians, scientists, nurses, medical technologists and other medical staffs have been working in the hospitals in handling the confirmed and suspected coronavirus patients, the DGHS sources said.
The WHO advised the employers of the health workers to honour the right to compensation, rehabilitation, and curative services for health workers infected with COVID-19 following exposure in the workplace – considered as an occupational disease arising from occupational exposure.