Steps to address DMCH burn unit woes called for
THE precarious conditions a patient in the burn and plastic surgery unit at Dhaka Medical College Hospital has to face speak volume of how indifferent the incumbent Awami League-led government is towards ensuring health care for all in general and the public healthcare system in particular. According to a New Age report on Saturday, most of the 34 doctors out of 45 and half of the 30 nurses of the unit are on deputation, while the extended 9-bed unit that opened on July 27 currently does not have even a single doctor, nurse or technician barring a ward boy and a caregiver. Also, the unit lacks adequate number of equipment.
The project set up in 2000 to alleviate sufferings of the burn victims is yet to be transferred to the revenue budget and many members of the staff there hardly receive their salaries regularly; something sufficient for distracting people from their duties. Moreover, a proposal to resolve the issue was sent to the health ministry in 2011 but it currently gathers dust at the Prime Minister’s Office. Overall, it is of little surprise that patients there are charged fees, sometimes exorbitantly, by the people tasked to deliver different services, including dressing, supposed to be delivered free of cost. Besides, the patients have to buy almost all medicines from medicine shops outside the hospital as the hospital authorities provide them with only some pain killers.
It is important to note here that the DMCH burn unit is the only centre in the country to treat burn victims, while the number of fire incidents causing serious injuries to people is on the rise. With the dismal condition of the DMCH burn unit, there are reasons to believe that the incumbents’ plan, as stated by some key officials in the health ministry soon after the tragic Nimtoli inferno that killed 123 people and injured 200 more had taken place in June 2010, to set up more burn units in at least 13 government medical college hospitals across the country is mere rhetoric.
In fact, it is the general apathy of the ruling quarters to the low-income people, who have no option other than public hospitals for healthcare needs, which is to blame for all this. Be that as it may, the government needs to immediately end such apathy and take effective steps to ensure easy access to healthcare facilities for burn victims.
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