Two MRI and a CT Scan machines have gone out of order at Bangladesh's premier public hospital, the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, upsetting patients who arrive from within the city and outside to get reliable diagnosis at a low cost.
Many of these patients need to get the tests done urgently. But the MRI machines have been out of order for a long time, while one of the two CT Scan devices broke down four days ago. Hospital employees are in over their heads covering all the patients with only one machine functioning.
The relatives of the patients who need tests done in those machines are in disarray as well, with some rushing to the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery while others head for private hospitals and diagnostics centres.
The rush amid heavy traffic of the capital combined with the much higher expenditure has left people at their wits’ end.
DIFFERENT SHADES OF STRUGGLE
On Tuesday, patients thronging the hospital’s radiology department came to know about the state of the MRI machines only after arriving there. The relatives ended up dragging their patients to other places where the tests are available.
The technicians of the department said one machine was being used to carry out MRI on 20-30 patients over the span of two shifts but when that broke down, patients were forced to look for alternatives.
Brigadier General Md Nazmul Haque, the director at DMCH, said one of the MRI machines at the hospital broke down before the coronavirus pandemic and the other one went out of order about four months ago.
The doctor at the hospital’s neurology department wanted Tushar Mia, a 45-year-old man from Bagerhaat, to undergo an MRI test. Due to the current state of the machines, his relatives took him to a private hospital in Dhanmondi for the test.
“It’s impossible to describe how difficult it is for a patient to travel from Dhaka Medical College to Dhanmondi in this city of traffic jams,” Tushar said.
Md Idris, who was accompanying a patient, said DMCH charges Tk 3,000-Tk 3,500 for an MRI test but the fees are twice as much in other places. Travelling around with a patient adds another Tk 1,000 on top of that.
The broken equipment at DMCH has passed a lot of pressure on to Sheikh Hasina burn institute with patients being required to get appointments two days in advance.
Md Sumon, a 32-year-old resident of Naogaon, arrived in Dhaka with ear problems and was asked to do an MRI by his physician. He was able to get it done at the burn institute on Tuesday.
His wife Surobhi Akter said: “We had an acquaintance in the burn institute, still it took us two days to get an appointment for an MRI. It takes too much money to do it outside.”
Sazzad Jalal, an assistant professor at the burn institute, said: “We have an MRI and two CT Scan machines. Patients from Dhaka Medical College Hospital have increased pressure here.”
“Around 10-12 people are undergoing MRI tests from morning to 3pm on an average. So we are maintaining a serial,” he added.
According to the DMCH, the two MRI machines and a CT Scan machine were set up at the end of 2017.
Hospital director Nazmul said the MRI machines had a warranty of five years. But to repair them now, a fresh contract must be made. The ministry was told about this but a decision was yet to come.
Employees of the hospital working in the CT Scan room said one of the two machines was in the emergency department and the other on the ground floor of the new building.
They said these machines used to run from 8am to 8pm over two shifts with 90-120 people undergoing tests on an average in the morning and 50-60 others in the afternoon everyday.
Sometimes, the machines had to be turned on at night for emergencies.
With one of the machines out of order, they said, the other is taking too much load and at this rate, can break down anytime.
Nazmul said the company that delivered the CT Scan machines were contacted and would soon send people to fix it.
[Writing in English by Syed Mahmud Onindo]