National Professor Nurul Islam, who left us one year back, reached the peak of success through his talent, perseverance and hard struggle throughout his life. His contribution to the country and its people will be remembered by all. The great man of the medical field was founder and director of the Institute of Postgraduate Medicine Research, now Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.
Born in 1928 in Chandanaish, Chittagong, he was a meritorious student from school life. After completing secondary education from Gasbaria N.G.M. High School in 1943 he completed I.Sc. from Calcutta Islamia Science College and graduated in medicine from Calcutta Medical College. He completed MRCP in 1954 with government scholarship and completed TDD in 1955 from Wales University, London.
He joined Mitford Hospital and then Dhaka Medical College as associate professor in 1958, and Chittagong Medical College as professor in 1962. He got Nuffield scholarship in 1963 and worked as visiting professor in London. He returned home in 1964. He joined PG Institute as Joint Director in 1965 and became director in 1966. He worked there as director and professor of medicine for 24 years.
He was not only a renowned physician but also an organiser and social reformer. He founded Islamic Medical Mission, Janasheba Foundation and ADHUNIK, and was closely associated with Hamdard Bangladesh.
The visionary professor contributed significantly to the growth and development of postgraduate medical education in the country. It is known to all that his prescription was for essential and limited number of medicines, and sometimes no medicine, for the patients. He founded 'ADHUNIK' -- the country's first anti-tobacco organisation -- and waged a social campaign against smoking. The role of anti-tobacco movement in Bangladesh has been recognised by the WHO.
He was a man of strong determination. National Professor M.R. Khan, in a condolence meeting at BSMMU after Prof. Islam's death, said that he was a man of such strong determination that once when his students of postgraduate medical education started a movement to defer examination he said that they could change the post of director but not the schedule of examination. The examination was held on time.
He would get pleasure in devoting himself to his work. His saying was that a person getting pleasure in work could never be tired of it. National Professor Nurul Islam's love and respect for work was reflected through his various socio-welfare oriented activities.
We know him as a pioneer of modern medicine who had great respect for all the systems of medicine. Apart from allopathy, he worked for unani, ayurved, homeopathy and other nature-based healing systems as well. He was associated with Hamdard Bangladesh for long and had been the Chairman till his death. Prof. Islam also contributed significantly to the growth and development of family medicine (FMD) in Bangladesh, and FMD was made a constituent organisation of the USTC. The Bangladesh National Drug Policy 1982, formulated under his leadership, was acclaimed at home and abroad. He also wrote innumerable books and publications.
He was very popular among the ordinary people, which was reflected by the fact that when he fell ill, people of all religions would pray in mosques, temples, pagodas, churches for his early recovery.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid her last respects to Professor Nurul Islam and prayed for salvation of his soul. The cabinet adopted a resolution expressing deep condolence at the demise of the eminent doctor and social worker. It said that he was the pioneer of the expansion of medical studies in Bangladesh and a tireless social worker, and his death was an irreparable loss for the nation.
He is no longer alive, but his contribution towards formulating national drug policy, social movement against tobacco and smoking, and expansion of postgraduate medical education will be remembered by the nation forever. He was not only an expert administrator but also a social reformer, medical scientist, renowned physician and teacher. He will be remembered among the future generation for his discipline and punctuality in professional life. May Allah grant eternal peace to his departed soul.
The writer is Executive Secretary of ADHUNIK.