Almost all private hospitals and clinics in frontier Rajshahi and other 15 northern districts are remaining out of the government's preparedness programme against H1N1 swine flu epidemic in terms of isolation capacity and clinical assessment.
"Private hospitals and clinics are yet to be instructed for the preparedness. We expect them to respond to the common call for creating isolation wards in advance," said Dr AKM Nur Kutubul Alam, director of health for Rajshahi division.
"In case of any steep rise of positive cases, we might need extra health infrastructure that the private hospitals can ensure," he said with an alert for flu outbreak in the country as its detection is increasing.
Following the government directives, the authorities of all public hospitals in the region are creating separate isolation wards and making inventory of essential drugs and preventive equipment, but there is no arrangement for diagnostic laboratory or pathological tests of the flu.
Official sources said none is so far reported to be detected positive in Rajshahi region.
If any suspect is found, the authorities will have to depend on the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) or other organisations in Dhaka for testing H1N1 virus and the process might take more than two days for results.
"Pathological tests of H1N1 influenza are very costly as reagents needed for the test once would cost as much as Tk 10,000," said Dr M Johurul Islam, civil surgeon of Rajshahi.
Dr Alam said healthcare personnel at Sona Mosque, Hili, Burimari and Bangla Bandha land ports in Rajshahi division have been put on high alert as part of preparedness to prevent swine flu outbreak.
Replying to a question, he said there would be no blood screening facility and thermal scanner for testing the incoming passengers at the land ports.
Isolation wards were already set up at Pabna, Rajshahi, Natore and Chapainawabganj spending around Tk 1.54 crore while the construction in other districts is underway.
A separate isolation ward is under construction near ward number 24 at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital where an isolated cabin and two emergency chambers were set up and a five-bed isolation ward has been prepared at Rajshahi Infectious Disease Hospital.
Apart from the isolation facilities, the authorities have made a handsome inventory of Oseltamivir, a drug, personal protection equipment (mask, gloves and gown) and disinfectants.
Upazila health complexes were also asked to create isolation facilities while necessary drugs and equipment would be provided from the district headquarters when necessary.
Orientation at every healthcare centre is going on, but maximum people are still away from any knowledge of the flu situation and what to do when affected.