It is important to ensure the availability of medicines, medical equipment, personal protective equipment and diagnostic kits for medical personnel and other workers in order to successfully deal with the increased pressure on the medical system caused by the second wave of coronavirus pandemic. But in a report published in Prothom Alo on Tuesday, the lack of coordination in this regard between the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and the Central Medical Stores Depot (CMSD) was evident. It is a matter of concern at this critical stage of the pandemic.

The CMSD said demand for safety equipment and medical equipment had risen since the second wave of the pandemic. As a result, the stock of these materials is running out fast. It may be possible to meet the demand for another 15 to 20 days with the amount they had in stock until 8 April, they told the health service division secretary. Since then 11 days have already passed by. It is important to find out the actual amount of stock of these items and for how many more days those items can meet the demand. Again, DGHS officials say there is nothing to worry about the stock of medical equipment and safety equipment. But they did not speak of how long the existing stocks would meet the demand.

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The CMSD operates under the DGHS. The organisation has repeatedly informed the DGHS about the need to purchase medical equipment and safety supplies as the stocks are declining fast. They wrote a letter to the DGHS on 1 April asking them to prepare a procurement plan for six-month within the next two working days and send it to the health service division. But the DGHS has not sent a full procurement plan as yet.

In a letter on 8 April, the CMSD informed the health services division secretary about the latest situation of medical equipment stocks and supplies. It takes minimum three months to procure the goods through open tender following all the regulations of the government procurement rules. It takes one to one-and-a-half months to get supplies even if purchased directly. The CMSD sent a copy of the letter to the health ministry and the Prime Minister's Office.

Health services division sent a letter to the director general of DGHS requesting to send a demand note for medical supplies. The DGHS hastily sent a procurement proposal to the health services division as soon as it received the letter. But a health services division official told Prothom Alo that the procurement proposal sent by the DGHS was incomplete and therefore unacceptable. As a result, they have been asked to send a full proposal again.

It seems the DGHS has been failing to realise the gravity of the situation, or for some reason incomprehensible to us, that they have not given due importance to this urgency of the matter. Now, as the director of the CMSD fears, “The DGHS’s delay in sending a procurement proposal could lead to a major crisis of safety equipment and medical equipment.”

But steps must be taken to ensure that such a crisis does not arise in any way. It is important to ensure accountability for failing to do so. Due to lack of accountability, we have had to face various problems and crises in the past.

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