Hope floats on board Bangladesh’s boat hospitals

Hope floats on board Bangladesh’s boat hospitals
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Doctors examine patients at the 'Emirates Friendship Hospital', a project initiated by a Bangladeshi NGO named Friendship, which seeks to provide health care to marginalised people in the northern districts of the country.  (Photos courtesy: Friendship. )
Hope floats on board Bangladesh’s boat hospitals
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Policemen and army personnel stand guard at checkpoint along a road during a government imposed shutdown as a preventative measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Narayanganj on the outskirts of Dhaka on April 8, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 12 April 2020

Hope floats on board Bangladesh’s boat hospitals

Hope floats on board Bangladesh’s boat hospitals
  • Almost 1,500 medics and volunteers providing healthcare to poor

DHAKA: Authorities in Bangladesh are using floating hospitals to provide people in remote parts of the north with vital healthcare services, as doctors work around the clock to limit the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Both the Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital and Emirates Friendship Hospital have been in operation for the past two decades.

However, with authorities grappling to contain the spread of the disease, they have widened their services to the char (river island) area by employing 1,500 volunteers and paramedics to spread awareness about the disease.

“In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have prepared isolation centers at both hospitals to treat patients ... Each hospital has 20 health workers including doctors, nurses and paramedics who are providing services 24/7,” Runa Khan, executive director of the Friendship NGO, told Arab News.

Each hospital is equipped with post-operative beds and can treat more than 30 patients at a special facility on land. 

Khan said the NGO hoped to expand its isolation facilities to cater to around 5,000 people a month, 80 percent of whom are women and children. 

“During this health emergency, we aim to distribute 50,000 masks free of cost. The community is preparing these according to the approved design. In the end, we will buy it from the community and distribute it among the neediest.” 

The floating hospitals are the only source of medical care for nearly a million people living in the northern region’s districts.

“We have received patients with cough and fever, but none have been diagnosed with coronavirus symptoms yet,” Dr. Debajit Dutta, of the Emirates Friendship Hospital, told Arab News.