The local market for medical or health safety products has come under tight monitoring as sales of such items and its demand have picked up significantly across the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic, officials said.
To this effect, Bangladesh Competition Commission (BCC) which is under the commerce ministry has already formed a five-member committee comprising its high officials to keep watch on the personal protective equipment market.
The committee is also checking the market situation on key essential items, they added.
According to market insiders, the demand for such safety gear and its use have increased significantly. Due to less supply, the prices of these items have risen and caused a shortage in the market.
At present, counterfeit or substandard protective gear have been selling in the market in the absence of proper legal steps, a source concerned said.
He, however, said low quality masks are being marketed at cheaper prices and these are not effective in fighting Covid-19.
"We have learnt that some dishonest traders are making hand sanitisers by mixing water and dye for taking advantage of the demand for hand sanitisers," he added.
The prices of health safety items have gone up manifold in the country during the Covid-19 pandemic period, he mentioned.
When contacted, BCC chairperson Md. Mofizul Islam said, "Currently, the market for health safety products has become important in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has already provided state aid to different sectors. Besides, it has taken multiple measures to protect the people from the diseases in the country."
The monitoring initiative has been taken so that the prices of health equipment especially different types of services, medicines and safety materials are reasonable and competitive for the treatment of Covid-19-infected patients, he added.
In 2012, the Competition Act was enacted in Bangladesh. The act was made to promote, ensure and sustain congenial atmosphere for the competition in trade, and to prevent, control and eradicate collusion, monopoly and oligopoly, combination or abuse of dominant position or activities adverse to the competition, according to BCC.
A good number of pharmaceuticals are now producing disinfectants. They are paying attention to boost their production.
Currently, over 20 pharmaceutical companies are involved with producing hand rubs and sanitizers. Several pharmaceutical units are also trying to produce these items.
Most of safety gear and medical equipment are being imported from China.
Sales of necessary medical equipment, health care items, PPE production factories, services of RT PCR and health services of all private clinics, hospitals and diagnostic centres are being monitored by the committee.
Besides, it is dealing with the issues including the availability of Covid-19 treatment related medicines, PPE, sanitizers, masks, jell and excessive prices of such goods.
Along with, all kinds of anti-competition activities are being strictly followed by the committee.
It will submit a report with commendations to the commission after monitoring.
Presently, demand for masks and PPE across the world has increased four to fivefold, a trader concerned said.
The country has now over 0.1 million registered doctors and over 56,730 registered nurses, said Bangladesh Nursing and Midwifery Council and Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council sources.
It is mentioned that apart from medical professionals and health facilities, the demand for medical safety products has soared among private organisations and residents in Dhaka city following an increasing number of Covid-19 cases.
Last couple of months, different emergency service providers and even the general people were on the hunt for personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear in the workplaces to avoid contact with coronavirus.