Health minister Zahid Maleque addresses seminar on ‘The role of surgeons in the COVID-19 crisis'. 18 October 2020
Health minister Zahid Maleque addresses seminar on ‘The role of surgeons in the COVID-19 crisis'. 18 October 2020Shuvra Kanti Das

Health minister Zahid Maleque has said that Bangladesh will bring the coronavirus vaccine which can be obtained the soonest and at lowest cost. And it will also be seen how effective the vaccine is for Bangladesh.

The health minister was speaking at a seminar held Sunday afternoon at the Grand Ballroom of Hotel Intercontinental in the capital city. He was the chief guest at the event.

Physicians at the seminar said from the very beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, physicians and health workers have been active. They faced all sort of risks in carrying out their duties. As the environment in Bangladesh has been conducive in the fight against coronavirus and also because of the relentless efforts of the physicians, it has been possible to being the situation under control for the time being. However, everyone including physicians must be prepared for a second wave. The government is also prepared.

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The Society of Surgeons of Bangladesh (SOSB) organised the seminar on ‘The role of surgeons in the COVID-19 crisis’. Pharmaceutical company Eskayef Pharmaceuticals was the scientific partner of the seminar.

Health minister Zahid Maleque said, “We are working in accordance to the prime minister’s directives. Within a short time it will be known which coronavirus vaccine we will be availing, which vaccine we can obtain. It must be kept in mind that the vaccine which can be obtained soonest and at an affordable price, and also which will be effective in Bangladesh, will be brought.”

Referring to the local vaccine of Globe Biotech, the health minister said, Globe Biotech’s vaccine had completed trial-2. If it is effective, it will be taken into consideration. It has not yet been decided upon which vaccine will be obtained. Manufacturers have been saying it may be available by January February or March. The World Health Organisation has said the vaccine may come around May or June.

When asked if they were in contact with any company regarding the vaccine trials, the health minister said, “If there is a matter of trials involved from whoever we take the vaccine, we will take measures accordingly. We had given our nod to the Sinovac vaccine trials, but they did not carry it out. There is still the scope for trials. If any other company comes forward and we see it is effective, we will give our approval.”

Speaking earlier at the seminar, director general of the Directorate General of Health, ABM Khurshed Alam, said, “We have been directed in accordance to the apprehensions expressed by the prime minister about a second wave of Covid. We are working as instructed by the health minister in light of those directives. We have preparations in place. If the second wave actually comes, we will be able to tackle it effectively.”

The SOSB president, AHM Touhidul Alam said, the physicians carried out their duties during the pandemic and will continue to do so in future. He said, new posts for surgeons haven’t been created after 2008 in many medical colleges. Many medical courses have halted as there are no teachers. Educational institutions have increased, but there are no teachers. He drew the health minister’s attention to these issues of concern.

One minute of silence was observed at the start of the seminar in memory of all the physicians and health workers who died of coronavirus.

The opening address was presented by SOSB’s former president Zulfiqar Rahman Khan. The ‘Covid-19 Pandemic Surgery Guidelines 2020’ was launched at the event.

Bangladesh has become a model around the world in tackling coronavirus. We remember those physicians who lost their lives. Bangladesh is the only country where, from the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, all necessary medicines were easily available.
Md Mujahidul Islam, Director (marketing and sales) of Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Limited
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The keynote on ‘The role of surgeons in the COVID-19 crisis’ was present by the SOSB general secretary Md Nur Hossain Bhuiyan. He said their organisation had been extending their assistance from the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak by providing physicians and health workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks. A guideline has also been drawn up for surgeons to tackle coronavirus. The surgeons went the closest to corona patients and so they were the most affected. He cautioned everyone to be prepared for the second wave of coronavirus.

Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council’s president Mohammad Shahidullah said, it will be possible to stay away from the transmission of coronavirus by following the hygiene rules, wearing masks and washing hands, and maintaining social distance. He called upon the government to take initiative for rapid antigen and antibody tests.

President of Swadhinata Chikitshak Parishad, M Iqbal Arslan, said the physician community had managed to effectively tackle Covid. During the pandemic, there had been errors, discrepancies, criticism and lack of coordination, but under the leadership of prime minister Sheikh Hasina, it had been possible to overcome all of this. He said, corona had increased again in the countries which had first brought it under control. And with temperatures falling in winter, there may be another wave. The government is prepared.

Speaking at the event, director (marketing and sales) of Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Limited, Md Mujahidul Islam, said under the leadership of prime minister and the health minister, Bangladesh had become a model around the world in tackling coronavirus. The physicians battled against the virus. We remember those physicians who lost their lives. Bangladesh is the only country where, from the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, all necessary medicines were easily available.

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Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA)’s president, Mustafa Jalal Mohiuddin, said that physicians risked their lives in performing their duties during the coronavirus outbreak and will do so in future too. But they must come forward further.

The BMA general secretary Md Ehteshamul Huq Chowdhury said 102 physicians had died during all around the country during the coronavirus outbreak. Even so, the physicians were going ahead in performing their duties.

Also speaking at the event were member of parliament Md Abdul Aziz, vice president of SOSB, AZM Mostaque Hossain, general secretary of Swadhinata Chikitshak Parishad, MA Aziz and others.