The lead photograph published in The Daily Star on Thursday reveals a grim situation faced by many who are dependent on the public transport system for essential services such as medical treatment. While restrictions on movement are surely a precautionary approach during the present crisis, the shutdown has created obstacles, among others, for those who are sick and need to visit hospitals—often from many miles away—on a regular basis. The photograph is of a patient from Gazipur who requires regular dialysis every week and was seen waiting for over two hours in the scorching heat for some kind of transport to go to a hospital for kidney diseases. There are many such patients in need of regular treatment and for them the absence of public transport can have devastating consequences.
The restriction on vehicular movement implemented nationwide is meant to tackle the spread of coronavirus; now it seems to have taken a toll on many, especially those who do not have the means to own a private transport.
We understand that hospitals are struggling to face the challenge to provide treatment to patients symptomatic of Covid-19, but at the same time, they must have provisions for medical care to other patients who have various serious ailments and are in need of critical care. They cannot be left out as in many cases their lives depend on certain treatments. Recently, a schoolboy in Khulna who was suffering from cirrhosis died without treatment after being turned away by three hospitals and a clinic. It is comprehensible that medical facilities will be under pressure during a pandemic, but that is no reason to ignore critical patients requiring immediate action.
We suggest that during such hardship, hospitals need to step up to aide patients in more ways than the usual. They should be welcoming to all patients, irrespective of their sufferings. Hospital authorities can come to an agreement with the owners of CNG-run auto-rickshaws to enable a feasible mode of transportation for the patients under the guidance of the responsible authorities. The government can also assist in arranging transportation under special regulations for patients who need to commute long distances for urgent treatment. As the medical problems need a collaborative approach during this moment of crisis, we hope that the respective authorities (including those of the hospitals) will carry out their responsibilities with dignity and diligence.