The only burn unit in Barishal division at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital (SBMCH) has been closed for five months. Not only that, the only psychiatry ward of the hospital has been closed for around a year.
After the death of the burn unit's head of department Dr MA Azad, the department was shut down due to shortage of personnel.
However, the hospital authorities said they have been treating fire victims in other departments, especially the medicine ward. On the other hand, when the only doctor at the psychiatric department retired, the unit gradually closed down.
SBMCH began its journey in 1968 as the first and prime medical college hospital in the South region with just 160 seats.
Currently it is a 1,000-bed hospital with an additional 150-bed Covid-19 unit. Yet there remains a crisis of doctors.
There are 224 posts for doctors, but only 97 of those have been filled. As a result, multiple units including the burn unit and psychiatry unit have remained closed.
Dr Moniruzzaman Shahin said the burn unit started in March 2015 with posts for eight doctors and 16 nurses, but even then the required number of personnel weren't present. Last April, the department head passed away hence the unit was closed.
"Dr Tapan Kumar Saha of the psychiatry unit has retired a year ago so that hasn't been functional either," he added, "We have written to the authorities for appointment of doctors in the vacant positions but there hasn't been any progress yet."
Lincoln Dutta, a nurse at SBMCH, said many patients have to go to Dhaka for better treatment of burn injuries.
Prashanta Haldar (53) of West Mollapara road at Ratnapur union under Agailjhara Upazila was injured after a gas cylinder explosion last Tuesday but he could not get proper treatment at SBMCH due to the absence of a functioning burn unit.
He received primary treatment at the Upazila Health Complex and later on his relatives prepared to take him to Dhaka.
The absence of a burn unit can be fatal for emergency patients with burn injuries in Barishal. Travelling is difficult amid the pandemic and it is likely that many patients cannot be taken to Dhaka on time.
Sah Sajeda, convener of Socheton Nagorik Committee, demanded that the burn unit of the hospital be made operational immediately because of the aforementioned reasons.
SBMCH Director Dr Bakir Hossain also cited Dr MA Azad's death as the reason behind the unit's closure and said he too is writing to the government authorities for appointment of more doctors, but progress is slow.