Chinese support boosts Bangladesh’s capacity to face Covid-19

Mohammad Al Amin

23rd June, 2020 09:41:33 printer

Chinese support boosts Bangladesh’s capacity to face Covid-19

Technological, technical and other necessary logistics support from China in the health sector have enhanced the capacity of Bangladesh in tackling the coronavirus situation here.

Addressing a press briefing on Monday, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said China is working to develop coronavirus vaccine and the Chinese government has said Bangladesh will get priority in terms of cooperation and support if they can successfully develop a vaccine for coronavirus.

Health ministry sources said China is providing logistics support and provided medical equipment including COVID-19 detection kits and tubes, ventilators, masks, thermometers, goggles, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to help respond to the crisis more efficiently. 

From China’s part, they started offering assistance to Bangladesh by sending the very first batch of 500 fast test kits as early on February 22. 

“China’s experience in tackling the situation is very much important. We are looking at the experiences gathered by China to guide our efforts to tackle the coronavirus situation in our country,” Prof Dr Abul Kalam Azad, Director General of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.

“We are also taking high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) from China for treatment of serious COVID-19 patients,” the DGHS chief added.

He further said Chinese companies and charity groups like the Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation have also contributed medical equipment and materials to Bangladesh.

“In April we joined a video conference with officials and experts from China to learn more about China’s experience to tackle our coronavirus situation,” said Abul Kalam Azad.

He said a ten-member Chinese experts’ team visited Bangladesh to share their experiences about COVID-19.

“They (the Chinese experts) visit our COVID-19 hospitals, isolation centres and talked with our physicians and medical experts to share their experiences. We are also using their experiences in making our guidelines on Covid-19 management,” the DGHS chief said. 

On June 8, the 10-member Chinese experts selected by the Hainan Provincial Health Commission came here for two weeks to help Bangladeshi physicians to combat COVID-19.

The Chinese expert medical team, comprising 10 respiratory specialist doctors having experience of containing pandemic in China from the province of Hainan shared their experiences in pandemic prevention and control and gave advices to Bangladesh on Covid-19 testing, contact tracing and quarantine.

The experts also visited local hospitals treating Covid-19 patients and offered on-site guidance on the management of cases, treatment of patients and protection of frontline medical staff.

China will submit four specific reports to Bangladesh containing recommendations on how Bangladesh can better deal with the COVID-19. The reports will be handed over to the Health Ministry here through the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka within a week as the Chinese team leaves Dhaka on Monday.

The health ministry of Bangladesh and the DGHS are also using Huawei’s video conferencing systems to assist the Government in combating the pandemic. The process enhances remote collaboration and communication efficiency between government departments. 

Jerry Wang Shiwu, Chief Technical Officer, Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Ltd, said the company is keen to offer AI image screening system ‘AI COVID-19 CT Scan Analyzer’ to help doctors diagnose patients for COVID-19. The analyzer can determine the results within 7 minutes. Before, the process used to take around 4-5 days to assess the results of the tests.

Sources from the health and family welfare ministry of Bangladesh said the country is taking various types of cooperation of some countries particularly from China to tackle the coronavirus situation as there is no vaccine and specific treatment of the coronavirus yet in the world.

As a goodwill gesture, Bangladesh at first sent health protected materials like masks, hand gloves, gowns and caps to China when the friendly country was fighting with the coronavirus.

In February, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sent a letter to the Chinese president Xi Jinping, offering cooperation to face the Covid-19. The Chinese President also appreciated Sheikh Hasina’s letter.

Later in May, the Chinese president phoned Bangladesh Prime Minister offering help to tackle the Covid-19. The Chinese President called the Bangladesh premier and proposed sending an expert team to help Bangladesh combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The whole world has been passing through a critical moment since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan. China was the first victim to experience the fatality of coronavirus. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 12. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. COVID-19 is now a pandemic.

According to Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), a total of 115,786 coronavirus patients have been detected so far in Bangladesh---46,755 of them have recovered and 1,502 died till Sunday. Some 627,719 samples so far have been tested in the country.