Dire crisis of IV saline in Rajshahi

The demand for intravenous saline has soared as the number of dengue patients is rising. The supply is not enough as compared to demand. The photo was taken at the Mugda Medical Hospital on Thursday
Tanvir Ahammed

A dire crisis of intravenous (IV) saline has been created in the markets of Rajshahi. Saline cannot be found in pharmacies not even for several times more money. Patients’ relatives are moving from one pharmacy to another, in search of saline.

People concerned have said that surge of dengue patients in the hospital, sudden rise in cholera and diarrhoea as well as the absence of regular supply has contributed to this crisis.

Meanwhile, Rajshahi Medical College authorities are saying that patients admitted in their hospital don’t have to buy saline from outside. Patients’ relatives however have been noticed buying saline from outside of the hospital.

Talking to physicians it has been learnt that they advise using IV saline in case of dehydration, diarrhoea, cholera or to keep the blood pressure stable. Dengue patients also require saline on a regular basis. A dengue patient has to be given one to two litres of saline daily, while some patients might require even more.

While asked for saline going to at least 10 pharmacies in Lakshmipur area of Rajshahi city which is adjacent to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital on Thursday evening, salesmen couldn’t provide the saline.

A man named Ali Ahsan who has a relative admitted in a local private clinic was also looking for saline. He said that his nephew is suffering from cholera. While they have admitted him in a private hospital for better treatment, they cannot find saline in the pharmacies.

After returning empty-handed from several pharmacies, a man named Sobuj Mia had come to a pharmacy named ‘Arogyo Pharmacy’ asking for saline. This man who has a relative admitted in Rajshahi Medical College Hospital claimed that the hospital nurses had sent him there to buy saline. But there was no saline in that pharmacy either.

Owner of ‘Arogyo Pharmacy’ and member of Bangladesh Chemist and Druggist Samity unit in Rajshahi, Md Fazlur Rahman said that the crisis of saline in the market has been persisting for almost a month.

The companies haven’t been supplying any saline to Rajshahi for a week. They have promised to supply adequate amount of saline from next Sunday, he added.

A salesman from a nearby pharmacy spoke openly though. He said that there has been an upsurge in the number of dengue patients at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital. They have run out of saline kept in their storage and that’s the reason behind such a huge demand.

He had to return at least 20 customers empty-handed without saline from his pharmacy on Thursday night. Without mentioning his name, the salesman further said that saline costing Tk 80 to 90 have been selling for a price up to Tk 400 in the markets of Rajshahi for a week, he added.

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He too was compelled to sell them at that price for he had bought them at a higher rate from the neighbouring district. He also said that sellers haven’t been keeping saline in their stores since the raid by the consumers rights protection directorate’s.

Masum Ali, deputy director at the directorate of national consumers right protection office in Rajshahi had carried out a raid in the pharmacies of Lakshmipur area on 7 September. He at that time had fined two pharmacies named ‘Alif Lam Mim’ and ‘Arogya Niketan’ Tk 60,000 on the charge of selling saline costing Tk 90 for Tk 200.

In this regard, Rajshahi Medical College Hospital director Brigadier General FM Shamim Ahmed said that there is not that much of a crisis in the hospital now. Patients don’t have to buy them from outside. Plus, an adequate supply of saline will arrive next Sunday.