With 15 out of 21 posts of doctors lying vacant for around three years, the Kalia Upazila Health Complex in Narail is struggling to serve a hundreds of patients every day.
The posts of residential medical officer and dental surgeon are among the vacant posts. Surgeries are not being performed as there is no anaesthetist at the hospital where 45 patients are admitted at present.
Only three doctors come to the hospital regularly and see about 400 outdoor patients every day, according to Upazila Health Officer Sharif Shahabur Rahman.
Three other doctors have been irregular for quite some time now, he told this paper.
“One went on maternity leave in 2015 and did not return ever since while another doctor had gone on maternity leave on February 3 this year. She was supposed to join work in the beginning of this month but didn’t,” he said.
“She has sent an application seeking leave for another month. The third one, who is also the acting senior medial officer, joined work recently after remaining absent for a few days without notice.”
This correspondent visited the complex on August 19 and witnessed how frustrated patients were engaging in brawls over collecting tickets from the outdoor counter.
While talking to this correspondent, Mariam Begum of Mirzapur area said she had come to the health complex at 9:00am and finally could see a doctor at 3:00pm.
Rahima Khatun, a patient from Kaliya upazila headquarters said she came early in the morning but could not get a ticket until 11:00am. “Allah knows when I will get the ticket, see the doctor and finally return home,” she said in despair.
Safader Shikder of Mohammadpur village said, “We are not getting proper treatment as doctors are not available. We need more doctors.’’
Farzana Islam, who is the only medical officer currently serving at the health complex, stated how exhausted she was. “I might fall ill as I am seeing 125 to 150 patients every day with only two medical assistants.”
Gynaecologist Jayanta Kumar Biswas said, “We are in a soup. Besides serving 400 to 450 patients daily, we have ward visits. The pregnant ladies have complicated issues.’’
Besides the scarcity of doctors, broken equipment is also an issue that is ruining the reputation of the health complex.
“The X-ray machine has been broken for the last 10 years,” Health Officer Sharif said.
“The ultrasound machine is lying unused as there is no operator. The post of ultrasound operator has been vacant for over three months now.
“In this circumstance, it is very difficult to handle the emergency services, outdoor patients, and the admitted ones. Then there are administrative tasks, trainings, meetings, and many other responsibilities.”
He told this paper that the district civil surgeon had been informed about the situation several times but no step has been taken yet.
Narail Civil Surgeon Dr Mohammad Asad Uz Zaman Munshi said he was aware of the situation.
“I did not want to release the doctors. Recently I wrote to the higher authorities asking them to appoint doctors for the health complex.”