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Monday, February 8, 2016, Magh 26, 1422 BS, Rabius Sani 27, 1437 Hijri

PM opts for home treatment: Lesson for others
Anis Ahmed
Published :Monday, 8 February, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 118

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in yet another visionary role model decision, has made her desire known that in case of medical treatment she will prefer to avail it in the country - instead of rushing abroad. This reflects her patriotic mindset and serves a reminder to others who now-a-days go abroad for treatment of any ailment for which world class treatment is available in Bangladesh.
The craze for foreign treatment reached such a height these days that people go to Singapore, Bangkok, London and other places even for 'headache" or simple eye sore! This is a special privilege often misused by many including Ministers, Members of Parliament, ruling party leaders and others. They find it the easiest way to have very expensive tests or treatment abroad by spending huge money from the state coffer. This also offers them chance to visit places of historic and natural beauty, and to meet children and relatives living in foreign countries at cost of nothing from their own pocket. This is a state-paid holiday under cover of medical treatment - which is easily available in Bangladesh.
It can be noted that over the past decades, medical facilities in Bangladesh have tremendously improved but many either do now know this or simply ignore.
Previously, critical patients used to go to India, especially Kolkata, to seek better treatment. Lately the craze is for Vellore, Madras, Chennai and other far flung Indian cities with options for site seeing, fancy dining and time for gossiping and making friends. Now the canvas is much wider.
As the big guys like Ministers and the President always choose foreign hospitals as their destination for "fixing" health, hospitals in Bangladesh, such as the reputed ones like LABAID, UNITED, SQUARE, DMCH and others have become somewhat impulsive and careless while dealing with ordinary patients. The government and private hospitals now feel there is no one to make them accountable or take them to task for lapsing duties.
Unless someone truly big and powerful arrives, the patients are left in hands of interns, junior doctors and some apathetic nurses. Finding a professor on daily round is a matter of sheer luck.
Not only the politically or monetarily powerful, the hospitals often host "criminals" disguised as patients. They get VIP treatment, better food and hospitality in air conditioned cabin while the hospital corridors are crammed with people groaning in pain and desperately needing good treatment. But they can't avail it for many reasons beyond their control.
Lack of government control has made way for cheating in the hospitals - where professors and experts rise up as if by an "electric shock" only when a Minister or his like shows up, escorted by personal security, police and party men. Once they are gone, the services at the hospitals fall flat or become oppressive to the ordinary patients. This has become an apparently irreversible tradition in our country.
But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's decision to seek medical care in the country, unless going abroad has become unavoidable, is an unprecedented gesture that shows her love and concern for the people. She has, during her premiership, introduced many welfare decisions that now added one more - take treatment at home. This will serve as an eye opener and lesson that all should follow.
But in Bangladesh, perhaps nothing will change until the Prime Minister -- not as an individual  but as head of the government -- issues an official directive for all including the frequent fliers not to go abroad until the last option for treatment in country has been tried.
And, a foreign trip for medical purpose should be allowed only if a medical board recommends so for life saving treatment. This rule will not only apply to hi-fi officials and politicians but to everyone reporting sick. They must face the medical board and follow its suggestion.
Bangladesh has many people who amassed huge wealth by illegal income, fraud and from mysterious sources. They top the list of foreign visitors for treatment. Doing this, they take foreign exchange out of Bangladesh.
For example, flying to a foreign country, let alone by air ambulance, requires huge expenses that normally does not cover by the maximum amount of foreign currency one person is allowed to take along. They manage it by ducking fact and through cheating or using fraud. Thus, they drain out Bangladesh's money, do business abroad and meanwhile get a few routine tests at a hospital. Now if they feel feverish in the morning, they get to Bangkok, Singapore ort Kuala Lumpur by evening !
This practice should be stopped - taking lead from the Prime Minister.
Sheikh Hasina is a VVIP and her status is much higher than anyone else in the country. Yet she opts to treat her health problems first at home.  Then, why others in her government, party and administration cannot afford this, too? She showed us the way, we should follow this. But if we don't, the state should make its move by announcing a health policy that will restrict "un-required" medical trips abroad. And this policy should be implemented and enforced rigorously.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka. Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000. Phone :9586651-58. Fax: 9586659-60, Advertisemnet: 9513663, E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected].