kits shortage poses serious public health risks from Coronavirus in Bangladesh as the imported testing kits reserve is running out, according to a government agency report.
“Shortage of coronavirus test kits is forcing cut numbers of test across the country and risking an increase in infection rates,” Additional Secretary and Director, Central Medical Stores Depot (CMSD) Abu Hena Morshed Zaman wrote in a letter recently to Finance Secretary said.
The letter sent on July 5 to Secretary of Finance Division Abdur Rouf Talukder sought Tk 498.55 crore for import of kits, PCR and other necessary medical equipments to fight against Coronavirus.
The CMSD requested the ministry to immediate release of Tk 377 crore already approved at Ecnec meeting and allocation of another Tk 100 crore for continuing medical equipments further.
“If the procurement were not done timely the treatment of Covid-19 might be severely hampered due to crisis of kits across the country. It could have created an intense public discontent and tarnish the image of the government severely,” the letter explained the reason behind procurement order.
It further said that in order to cope with the situation, it is necessary to buy various medical items on emergency. For this, it will not be possible to pay the bill to the supplier company unless at least Tk 279.49 crore is released on an emergency basis.
The bill of Tk 85 crore for supply of 375,000 PCR test kits is already placed by four companies including Chinese Sansure Biotech, Jarin Enterprise, Sterling Multi-Technology, Overseas Marketing Company.
A bill of Tk 33.32 crore is due for the purchase of 20,000,000 test sample kits (DTM and swab stick) from BCSIR which is also pending.
Director-General of Health Abul Kalam Azad said, “It is important to increase the number of tests at this time but we are not able to do so due to various limitations,”
He said that the money has not been disbursed yet. “Reduction of coronavirus tests may pose serious public health risk as well as tarnish image of the country,” he explained Business Mirror.
Of the total of 165 million people in Bangladesh, tests have been conducted on less than 1 million (918,272) with a 19.43% infection rate, since the first detection on March 8.
The health ministry in the last couple of days conducted 13,500 to 14,000 fresh tests a day against the experts’ advises of conducting 50,000 tests a day.
An official of finance division not to be disclosed his name said the CMSD sought funds but they did not send appropriate documents and the division finds mismanagement in the purchase process.
The official also said, “We have sought an explanation from the health ministry for purchase essentials materials.”
Meanwhile, different districts are facing a dearth of detection kits. Coronavirus testing has remained suspended in one of the facilities in Narayanganj since June 18 amid a severe kit crisis.