Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been countless incidents across the country of medical services becoming scarce, from overwhelmed hospitals to shut-down private practices. And yet, there were hundreds of doctors and staff who remained resolute to their oath of serving patients.
Md Yusuf Faruqi Parvez is one of them, who put himself on the line and had to pay for it, but it did not deter him.
Since the pandemic began, Dr Parvez -- from Chattogram's Hathazari -- continued treating people at his two chambers; one at the upazila's Aman Bazar and the other at the port city's Rahattarpool area.
On May 31, Parvez tested Covid-19 positive. With fever and breathing problems, he was admitted to a private hospital in the city.
It took him nine days at the hospital to recover, after which he went into self-isolation for 21 days.
"When most doctors stopped private practice, patients fell into deep trouble," said Dr Parvez. "Though I knew I could be infected if I continued private practice, I never thought of absconding from my duties. Where would patients go if we all shut our doors?"
"When I tested positive, all I could think of was recovering and getting back to work," Parvez told this newspaper recently.
But this was not a one-off incident. Over the years, the physician has cultivated a reputation as a "doctor of the poor".
After obrtaining his MBBS degree in 2004 from Chattogram Medical College, Parvez set up his chamber, but never set a fee for his patients, locals said. He treated insolvent patients for free and sometimes even helped them avail medicine.
From his first-hand experience with Covid-19, Parvez realised oxygen support can be the difference between life and death for patients, which is difficult to avail especially for those in rural areas.
Parvez bought 11 oxygen cylinders to provide emergency support to patients with respiratory distress, free of cost. He circulated his initiative through local public representatives of Hathazari upazila and through social media.
When Omar Faruque (49), a resident of the upazila, was having difficulty breathing, his family was in panic.
"A relative gave me the doctor's phone number. I called and informed him of the patient's condition," said Rashed Liton, Omar's brother. "The doctor suggested primary treatment and sent his volunteers with oxygen cylinders on our way."
"They arrived within 15 minutes and we were very relieved," Liton said.
Another patient, Md Yunus (70), also received oxygen support from Parvez after he was having trouble breathing last week, said Fazal Ahmed, the patient's cousin.
"I have a plan to set up an isolation centre to treat Covid-19 patients who are suffering from mild to moderate symptoms," the Dr Parvez told this newspaper.