Important diagnostic tools out of order

Out of order manual X-Ray machine at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital, BarishalProthom Alo

Patients have been suffering immensely as 15 very important diagnostic equipment are out of order at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barishal.

The patients are spending more money and time as they are forced to go to the private diagnostic centres that have cropped up within a quarter kilometre of the hospital.

While visiting the hospital on 18 and 19 May, such a gloomy picture was found there.

The hospital has two CT (computerised tomography) Scan machines but both of them are out of order since June 2020, said an official of the hospital’s administration.

One of the equipment is not even repairable, the official added.

Though there is an MRI machine in the hospital, it is not working for the last five years. The expired date of the machine is also over. As a result it won’t be possible to repair the machine.

The hospital authorities have sent letters to the health directorate and the health ministry for several times in this regard but to no avail.

The 1000-bed hospital has five ultra-sonogram machines but three of them are inoperable for long. The remaining two are not enough to conduct the required tests of inpatients and outpatients every day. At least 150 patients come to the hospital for ultra-sonogram each day. This overworking has put the two USG machines under serious pressure, the hospital sources said.

Sabbir Hossain, a small trader from Nalchity upazila said to Prothom Alo, "He did not know when his serial would come up as 50-60 people were waiting ahead of him for ultra-sonogram."

Condition of the X-ray department is the worst. Out of 13 X-ray machines eight are out of order. Among the remaining ones, one is shifted to the paediatric department while another one at Corona-ward. As a result, X-ray of over 300 patients is being done using the three machines every day.

In the same way, the echocardiogram machine and cath lab (catheterisation laboratory) for heart disease patients at the hospital are out of order. The echocardiogram service has stopped since mid-2021 while the angiogram service is not being delivered for the last three years.

Another source from the hospital said the cobalt-60 machine, used for the treatment of cancer patients, is out of order for almost three years. However, the hospital’s pathology department is doing better than other departments.

Hundreds of outpatients every day go to 39 diagnostic centres cropped up within a quarter kilometre of the hospital due to non-operation of equipment at the government facility.

Speaking to Prothom Alo about the dire state of important machines, medical equipment supervisor Saiful Islam said they have sent letters to the firm that supplied the equipment to repair the machines whose expiry date is not over.

Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital’s director HM Saiful Islam told Prothom Alo, “We would get a new CT Scan machine soon. A letter has been sent to the ministry for MRI machine as well. We have been urging the ministry repeatedly to send new equipment or repairing the old ones. Hopefully, inoperative machines will be made operational within a short time.”

* The report, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten into English by Shameem Reza.