People in Bhola’s Monpura upazila, especially pregnant women, consider Dr Mahmudur Rashid to be a blessing.
The upazila health and family planning officer goes door to door and provide the residents of the remote island upazila with health care services.
He also makes them aware about different health issues.
Rashid visits the houses at night after wrapping up his daily duties at the local health complex.
“The literacy rate is very poor here. The residents are superstitious and still prefer local quacks rather than the doctors. So I took the services to their doorsteps,” Rashid told The Daily Star recently.
“Pregnant women, children and elderly people are my main concern as they need special attention,” he said.
There are nearly 1,25,000 people in 38 villages of the upazila.
During a visit to the area recently, this correspondent found Rashid visiting homes and holding discussions at the local bazaar.
He also sang songs in public spots to spread awareness about different health issues and the available related medical facilities.
Surprisingly, the doctor’s contact number was found written on doors of many houses in the island upazila.
Local residents told this correspondent that Rashid was always available for them, not only as a physician but also as a genuine friend.
Mamun Hossain, a local journalist, said many government health officers (doctors) were unwilling to stay at Monpura as it was a remote island.
“Previously, doctors used to drop by at the health complex just once or twice a week but this officer has set an example,” he said.
Sathi Akhter, a housewife of Sakuchia village, said, “Sir [Dr Rashid] has arrived as a blessing for us. He often comes to my house as I am pregnant and he is doing all these free of cost.”
While sitting at the upazila health complex, Nilufar, another expecting lady who was from Shamsuddin char, said, “I came to the hospital for a safe delivery. We believe sir would arrange everything necessary.”
Rashid said, “People hardly came to the health complex when I joined. Now we see huge crowd every day.”
As for what drives him, Rashid said it was simply his duty. “A doctor is meant to serve the people and I do that. I hear about manpower shortages and limitations but I don’t believe those should stop doctors.”
His dedication has inspired his peers and also the locals.
“He is not only a friend to the people but an inspiration to all other doctors,” said Dr Shafiqual Islam, resident medical officer at Monpura Upazila Health Complex.
Hajirhat Union Parishad Chairman Shahriar Chowdhury Dipok said, “Dr Rashid is a friend to all of us in this area. We are really lucky to have him as our health officer.”
In terms of challenges, Rashid said they still needed a proper lab and urged the authorities concerned to arrange blood transfusion facilities at the health complex.