A CLOSE LOOK

Treatment of cardiac diseases can be less costly

Nilratan Halder | Published: December 30, 2017 00:25:42


The National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) is known as a state-of-the-art hospital for treatment of coronary or popularly called heart diseases. So far as the facilities are concerned for caring for heart patients, the hospital is comprehensive enough. It has come a long way from the time when mismanagement and pathetic records beguiled its reputation as a heart-care centre. Today doctors are highly qualified and experienced and know their jobs. Most of them are so well-behaved that one has to come across them to believe. Caring and efficient, these doctors, however, have to perform their job in not-so-ideal an environment.

Why? All because there is a heavy rush and patients are not turned down at all. They have to be accommodated on the floor, in the passage and every conceivable space available there. The fact is treatment here is cheaper and more and more people are falling victim to the disease. Usually the poor patients cram the hospital. Naturally, the cleanliness and calm and quiet environment so essential for this kind of healthcare facilities are absent here. No matter however much the authorities may try to maintain a tidy environment of the wards and the passageway, it is impossible to do so.

The NICVD has been rendering a service mostly for the poor but patients from upper classes are not refused treatment either. There are cabins for VIPs, quite spacious, where some missing facilities have now been added. Yet, it is futile to expect the unblemished spick-and-span cleanliness of some of the city's highly reputed private hospitals where treatment of the disease is of the highest standard. Either retired heart specialists from the NICVD or foreign consultants serve there. Patients from the middle class cannot even think of treatment at those posh hospitals. So it is only natural that this government healthcare facility compromise on some of the elements only to serve as many patients as they can.   

However the apprehension is that the hospital is under severe stress with the rising number of patients in the country. If cardiac patients continue to rise so abnormally, it will be difficult for this hospital to admit all who come there seeking relief. Nowadays treatment of all types of cardiac patients has become easier. Coronary stents are inserted in arteries in order to unblock those. Only in cases of major cardiac arrests, bypass operations are performed.

What is so galling is that people do not become aware of their lifestyle and food habits. The disease can be avoided if a sound lifestyle is practised suiting one's avocation. Modern life has many vices that lead to cardiac arrests irrespective of age. So there is a fear that the number of patients will continue to increase here in the near future. If a new generation launch a drive against the lifestyle now in vogue, maybe, things will change.

Admittedly, the treatment has become comparatively cheaper. But it is well beyond the poor patient's reach. What actually is responsible for this is the imported coronary stents. Prices of stents have been brought down but not by much. It is still heavily over-priced. In a radical move, the Indian government slashed prices of stents -also imported - by several times. The price cut there has been by 85 per cent. A similar move here went a-begging. The government move was scuttled by the companies importing stents.

India has slashed the prices of bare metal stents (BMS) from the average tag of Rs 45,000 to just Rs 7,260 (highest ceiling) and to Rs 29,600 from Rs121,000 for the drug eluting variety. Here is a clear message for Bangladesh. If it so wants, the stent prices can be brought down to one-fourth to one-sixth. If this is done, poor patients will not be required to sell their moveable and immoveable property for treatment of cardiac diseases. Will the authority take this step in order to save lives of millions of coronary patients? The situation demands that such a step was taken in the interest of the poor patients.

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