Experts have been saying from the beginning that all of those who are 18 years and above must be vaccinated. But the government first decided that only citizens aged above 50 can receive the vaccine. Later, the age limit was lowered to 40, 35 and 30 years in phases. Referring to the health minister, the director general of DGHS now said he ordered to examine whether age limit for vaccination can be lowered to 18 years.

Almost all countries in the world have taken necessary measures to bring their senior citizens under the vaccination drive as soon as possible. India has administered 6 to 7 million doses a day following the spike in coronavirus pandemic and the programme still continues. But we are limping. There is a lack of vaccines, physicians, nurses, health workers as much as the infrastructural problems. There are beds at hospitals but no ICU (intensive care unit) facilities. If there is an ICU unit, it doesn’t have oxygen. The ailing health sector itself is in need of treatment.

When prime minister Sheikh Hasina said 80 per cent of population would be immunised then it can be inferred that all citizens of 18 years and above would get the vaccine. So if Bangladesh has a population of 170 million (17 crore), then 133 million (13.3 crore) of them are eligible for vaccination. If each of them receives two shots, some 266 million (26.6 crore) of doses will be required. And we have managed to collect just 20 million (2 crore) of doses or a little more than that.

To describe the experience of the hospital’s patients, the DGHS director general said none of the patients with critical condition were vaccinated. Who is responsible for this? At first, some people were reluctant about the vaccine but now all people are eager to get inoculated. That is why crowds gather for to be registered for the vaccine. The government can’t supply vaccines as per necessity as yet.

The director general said there is no shortage of oxygen and it’s being imported from India. Can the officials of the DGHS answer why we couldn’t manufacture oxygen even after 50 years of independence? No country can make its health sector self-sufficient by importing everything related to health services.

The remarks of the DGHS director general imply that everything was fine in the health sector until the coronavirus pandemic arrived. Reality is that the health sector has long been beset with chronic problems. Sometimes, we see the Mithu syndicate dominating this sector. Sometimes the Shahed-Sabrina ring controls it. Though some of them are abroad or are behind bars, their spectres are still present in the health sector.

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