Criticism ‘makes me stronger’
Several opposition leaders came down heavily on the health minister in parliament yesterday for the sorry state of the health sector, especially widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The lawmakers also slammed the minister over doctors' involvement in partisan politics and skyrocketing medical costs at private hospitals. They said these issues cause untold suffering to service seekers.
In response, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said, "I like criticism because it makes me stronger."
However, the criticisms need to be based on facts, he added.
Jatiya Party MP Kazi Firoz Rashid alleged that the BNP created Doctors Association of Bangladesh (DAB) during their time and the ruling Awami League created Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad (Swachip).
"What will we do if doctors get involved in partisan politics?" he questioned.
Answering the question, the health minister said, "Everyone has the right to participate in politics as a citizen of the country."
In addition, he also said, "It will be difficult for us to get services [from the doctors] if we condemn them more."
Mujibul Haque Chunnu, another Jatiya Party MP, questioned the skyrocketing medical costs at private hospitals. He termed the medical facilities "dacoits".
He criticised the poor healthcare services at upazila- and district-level government hospitals and condemned the government-employed doctors practising at private hospitals.
To reduce the burden of excessive medical costs from the shoulders of mass people, the MP suggested the health minister to form a committee and fix a rate for treatments at private hospitals.
Adding to this, Pir Fazlur Rahman, another MP of the Jatiya Party, said people went destitute while paying bills at private hospitals.
The health ministry had failed to address the issue, he said.
Mentioning the shortage of medical staffers, he said, 59 doctors were supposed to remain at a hospital in his area -- Sunamganj -- but there were only 14.
He said if the minister had been a little more active many problems had been solved.
BNP MP Harunur Rashid lambasted the health ministry saying he failed to prevent corruption and mismanagement in the health sector.
Citing the sorry state of the health sector, the BNP MP said, 50 years have passed since the independence of Bangladesh but we have not been able to differentiate between government hospitals and private hospitals.
"Those who are working in government hospitals are doing business in private hospitals. This cannot be acceptable."
He said the health sector is in a state of shabbiness all over the country as there is a huge crisis of doctors and medical technologists there.
Citing an example of corruption, he said the curtains were purchased at a hospital for Tk 38 lakh.
BNP MP Rumeen Farhana said people were helpless as they could not get treatment at the government hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Responding to all the criticism, the health minister said, "You will find faults. If two buckets of dirt are thrown into the sea, the sea will not be wasted and the water will not be wasted."
The minister said, "I assumed what you can say in parliament today [yesterday] and that's why I was well prepared to answer you all."
He also said that yesterday's parliament was vibrant due to the debate.
About high fees in treating at private hospitals, the minister said the ministry would hold a meeting to determine different medical fees there.
Hopefully, that issue will be resolved, he added.