One doctor is clearly not enough in a dispensary where the number of patients coming in every day is around 40. And if that same doctor has to attend five other dispensaries in other districts, there is no question that the task is impossible. Yet, as we reported on Monday, this is exactly the case in Mymensingh, where one only doctor, for five years now, has been attending six Bangladesh Railway (BR) dispensaries.
Railway dispensaries are there for the treatment of the railway staff and their families. How can one doctor provide healthcare, let alone quality healthcare, when he has to attend to six dispensaries in six districts? It is obvious that these dispensaries are crucial for these people who cannot usually afford treatment elsewhere. There are structural causes to this problem, and it was not one day in the making. The whole case is one of administrative neglect: buildings are dilapidated and rainwater seeps through destroying medicine, which is already in short supply to these dispensaries. Alongside the shortage of doctors, there is also a shortage of logistical staff like pharmacists. We have pointed out in the report how there is no incentive for doctors to join due to lack of benefits and because the appointments are non-gazetted. The lone doctor has been in the same post for the last 27 years!
We have been told that ten more doctors have been recruited and are due to join in a few months. That is good news. But, that won't solve the neglect of two decades and lack of incentives. Beyond the immediate solutions, the railway administration needs to seriously rethink the structural issues. The dispensaries are clearly a much-needed service for the staff, and possible solutions of gazetting or incentivising the jobs and updating the facilities must be given serious thought.