The death of at least nine Covid-19 patients due to lack of oxygen in Satkhira Medical College Hospital and Bogura General Hospital has shocked the nation. At a time the number of patients overwhelmingly outpaces medical facilities, such things are bound to happen, though. The question, however, is if the authorities concerned are aware of the emerging crisis? To go by the response of the higher authorities, it is clear that from the time the threat of Delta variant of Covid-19 was looming large, they failed to take the issue seriously let alone act accordingly.
In response to oxygen crisis in the early months of last year, corporate houses, a number of socio-cultural and voluntary organisations came forward with the mission of free distribution of oxygen among the poor and needy patients. Local government bodies like the Rajshahi City Corporation also joined the rank. The four Chattogram-based corporate houses---Mostafa-Hakim Group, Abul Khair Group, GPH Ispat and Master Group have been supplying oxygen free of cost to hospitals and patients in several districts such as Chattogram, Cox's Bazar, Feni, Cumilla and Sylhet since the middle of last year. They made their intention clear through an announcement that they would be ready to supply, when required, oxygen anywhere in Bangladesh. Isn't it sad that there was crisis of oxygen despite this standing and open offer?
These four conglomerates have enhanced their capacity for oxygen production and in addition to free distribution of cylinders they also have their daily refilling programmes. The border districts in the country's west and north-west may be at the farthest side from Chattogram but collaboration and coordination can easily make up for the distance.
Now here comes the role of the local bodies such as the Rajshahi City Corporation and also voluntary organisations like Bandhumahal of Gopalganj, both of which have embarked on a service to the ailing humanity by offering free medical oxygen. The RCC started with 100 oxygen cylinders in mid-June and hoped to increase the number to 150. In the same way Bandhumahal inaugurated its oxygen bank with 50 oxygen cylinders each containing 14 litres and expects to enhance its capacity to deliver 100 such cylinders soon. It also wants to add 25 oxymeter for measuring the level of oxygen. What is special about this voluntary organisation is that it has several contact numbers and anyone contacting the organisation gets the service delivered to the doorstep.
So, here is a humanitarian Bangladesh unlike the negative image projected by acts of fraudulence, violence and many more. In time of an acute crisis, the country also has turned its positive face that is shining brightly. Let this humanitarian side kick-start the nobility and generosity in people in more ways than one. It is highly optimistic that four corporate houses have taken the responsibility of supplying oxygen for free. One hopes more such big companies will join their rank if the situation becomes worse.
Sure enough, oxygen is saving lives of many. But there are shortages of intensive care units in hospitals. Some hospitals do not have ventilators for critical patients. Even there is a shortage of ambulances. These are areas where the corporate houses can contribute to build up capacities of hospitals. They can even take up the responsibility of setting up field hospitals for corona patients in the fur-flung areas.
Then there are individuals like Asma Akhter Liza and voluntary organisations like Bidyanondo who and which have been feeding the poor and the marginalised for long during the pandemic. The corporate houses can take similar initiatives themselves or donate money to such individuals and organisations as part of their corporate social responsibility. This is exactly how society can forge a bonding where humanity triumphs over all things evil and degrading.