Dilapidated public hospitals

Patients at great risks

Patients admitted in public hospitals face risk of being injured as many of the uncared shabby looking hospital buildings are found to be worn-out with visible cracks which may fall apart any time.

During visits to many such dilapidated appearing hospitals in the city this correspondent witnessed evidence of wall and ceiling cracks of various sizes. Such dreadful condition of the buildings did not just happen overnight but during a period of long time. 

Many of the buildings also show trees sprouting out from inside walls or ceilings dangerously exposing portions of wrecked concretes which is a clear testimony of unpardonable negligence of the authorities.

This corrodent was told by many of the patients and their attendants who repeatedly tried to draw the attention of the authorities about the broken down condition of the walls and the ceilings but no one seems to care.

In fact, there were many instances of small pieces of concretes falling off on attending doctors, nurses and of course patients. Formal complaints also went unsuccessful to prompt the authority concerned to even check and prevent further such instances.

This correspondent also learnt that many of the hospital buildings across the country still standing with wrecked cracks dangerously exposing accidently to happen.

According to the health ministry’s report, a total of 1334 buildings of government hospitals including Dhaka Medical College Hospital have been identified vulnerable and dilapidated, leaving their patients at risk of facing in-house accidents anytime.

Housing and public works ministry constructed 60 big buildings while health engineering department constructed 1274 buildings over the past decade, the report says.

Sarcastically, notice signed by the hospital authorities on the dilapidated and vulnerable building warns that patients themselves are responsible for taking treatment there.

News reports of roofs collapsing in hospitals and existence of dangerous buildings are not new. Such incidents have become frequent due to buildings becoming old and lacking repair and maintenance with their condition eventually becoming dilapidated. 

Most of the buildings at the of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) campus are over 5 years old. Although these buildings are not acknowledged as risky, it is not normal and safe to use those buildings, according to a monitoring team report to the health ministry.

Most of the buildings at Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital (SSMC) were built in 1955. The buildings were built between 1918 and 1942. As a result, these buildings are also unsafe to use. 

Despite the King Edward College building in this medical college being declared as a ‘deathtrap’, patients are regularly provided healthcare there.

Similarly, the public health institutes of Mohakhali Infectious Diseases Hospital, Institute of Health Technology, National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM), Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control And Research (IEDCR) and NIPSOM residential quarters have passed almost of 60 years since opening. All such buildings are declared unsafe  for use.

In addition, the 250-bed hospital in Tongi, Tangail, Madaripur, Chittagong, Naogaon, Natore, Jessore, Barisal, Mymensingh, Sherpur districts are in poor condition and declared unsafe for use. Providing health care in these buildings is considered risky.

In addition, 1274 risky buildings were identified in the 50 beds, 31 beds, 20 beds, 10 beds, union health centers and community clinics, dormitories, nursing quarters, doctors’ quarters, kitchens, etc, by the Department of Health Engineering. On the other hand, a list of 2,558 repairable buildings has been prepared.

In addition, 536 buildings were reported as vertical extension or upward expandable.

Apart from these buildings, 117 more new buildings constructed under the Department of Health are waiting for inauguration.

According to the ministry sources, there is a need for well-equipped buildings and infrastructure in the country to provide advanced, modern and quality medical care throughout the country.

In this regard, initiatives have been taken to construct new modern buildings on an urgent basis, repair necessary and upward expansion works by identifying risky, repairable, upwardly expandable buildings from existing health care institutions hospitals under the Department of Health Services nationwide.

On June 30 this year, the Health Services Department formed a five-member committee headed by the Additional Secretary (Nursing and Midwifery). The committee was asked to submit a report along with the list within 3 months.

In the wake of that directive, the committee reports along with the list. According to the concerned, a modern digital database of healthcare institutions and hospitals may be prepared based on the list made by the Department of Public Works and Health Engineering. 

To facilitate the planning and implementation of the construction and repair work in a digital manner based on the needs of the healthcare.

The list-making committee has provided several recommendations. For example, to create a digital database of healthcare institutions and hospitals under the Public Works Department and the Department of Health Engineering. Followed by preparation of updated lists of at-risk healthcare institutions and hospitals in order to ensure the safety and well-being of patients and healthcare providers.

Regarding this, the Secretary of Health Ministry Asadul Islam said, “A report has been submitted to us. The report says that many hospital buildings at different levels have been identified as abandoned and risky.”

He continued, “Now we are waiting for the budget. If these reforms can be made through one or two fiscal year budgets, they will be done that way. Otherwise, it will be done on a priority basis,” he added.

In the context of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, he said that since the new 5,000 beds hospital project has been adopted for Dhaka Medical College Hospital.