The family planning directorate has been suffering from manpower crisis as large number of post have remained vacant for the last couple years thanks to the procrastination of different government bodies related to the recruitments.
Currently, over a fifth of the total posts at the Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP) are vacant.
“We have been operating the family planning programmes by redistributing our manpower. We often have to pull-out staff from the centres in the unions and upazilas to the ones in the districts to mitigate the crisis,” said a DGFP official concerned, preferring to be unnamed.
“This is why the centres at the unions and upazilas are often found vacant,” he added.
Currently, there are a total of 52,000 posts in the directorate and of them, some 10,000 posts are vacant.
Recruitment of 3,000 staffers is underway, the official said.
He also said some 217 doctors' posts are vacant among a total of 1,210 posts.
The recruitment of 152 doctors with freedom fighter quota who were finally selected as the medical officers has been pending for more than a year.
The recruitment circular was published on May 31, 2017 and the final results came out on April 3, 2018.
The gazette notification for their joining is currently pending with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the DGFP official said.
“I'm feeling like I'm unemployed. In the last one year, I did not join anywhere else only because I wanted to join here,” said one of the 152 candidates.
Contacted, DGFP's Director General Kazi Mustafa Sarwar refused to make any comment regarding the delay in recruitment.
Contacted, GM Saleh Uddin, secretary of the medical education and welfare division under the heath and family planning ministry, said the issuance of gazette notification for the 152 medical officers was taking time as their freedom fighters' certificates were being verified.
“It will be published within a day or two,” he said.
Medical officers (doctos) play a crucial role in the family planning centres. They conduct the delivery of critical patients and implement permanent and temporary birth control methods that include ligation, vasectomy and implantation.
According to the DGFP website, it has been operating 61 Mother and Child Welfare Centers (MCWC) units at the district level, 427 Maternal Child Health and Family Planning (MCHFP) units at the upazila level, 3924 Union Health and Family Welfare Centres at the union level, and 12,217 community clinics. It also provides services by organising 30,000 satellite clinics every month throughout the country.
Along with the medical officers, family planning assistants (FPAs), family welfare volunteers (FWVs) and sub-assistant community medical officers (SACMOs) play vital roles in these centres.
The DGFP official said there were fewer people than required in all the above-mentioned positions.
In February this year, the DGFP appointed 66 SACMOs. It took the directorate four years to complete the recruitment process. Document shows, DGFP published the recruitment advertisement on May 4, 2015.
Still 469 posts of SACMO out of 2,500 posts are vacant. Recruitment of another 113 SACMOs is underway, confirmed the DGFP office, according to the official.
“It's one of the major causes behind the hampering of family planning activities of the government as it is putting extra burden on the staffers,” said Professor Mohammad Mainul Islam, chairman of population sciences department at Dhaka University.
Along with filling up the vacant posts and expediting recruitment process, the government should increase budget allocation and introduce incentives system to motivate field level staffs, he added.
According to a report titled “Bangladesh Voluntary National Review 2017”, Bangladesh is the fifth most populous country in Asia and eighth most populous in the world.
The report also says the country's average fertility rate is 2.1 per woman while the contraceptive prevalence rate is 62.1 percent.