Who will look after poor and helpless patients?
The poor and helpless patients who usually go to government hospitals are often treated with disdain by the doctors and other health professionals alike in government hospitals. Not surprisingly, it becomes clear why the standard of public health service in the country has become so low.
The country's absentee doctors have been sharply criticized by the Prime Minister, addressing them she said: stay at remote areas or quit. These doctors take the government job at stations located at remote areas of the country where treatment of diseases is hardly available, but they do not deliver their much required service but take salaries from the government coffer quite unethically.
They also do not leave their job. Posting of a doctor in a remote corner does not appear to be financially lucrative as there they have little opportunity for private practice. If not for all, but for many doctors stationed in remote places, the PM's accusation stands true.
Yet the poor rural patients for whom these heath centres are established do not find doctors in the time of their needs. This is pitiable and absenteeism of doctors from these places is going on for a long time. Even in cities and large towns, doctors fail to give their designated time as they rush for private practice. Whatever little service they provide in a reduced time of stay at government hospitals - is no way comparable to the care they give at private health facilities.
Some days ago a vernacular daily published a photo of the inside of a hospital where stray dogs and patients were living together. The quality of Bangladesh's public health service cannot be lifted unless the drawbacks are not properly addressed with particular focus on compelling the doctors to stay their full duty hours at hospitals or health centres.
The absentee doctors will not voluntarily quit, as the PM has urged them to do. Better it would be to make a watch list of these doctors and sack them from their job after necessary warnings and recruit fresh doctors in their place.
The process could well be introduced as a part of the system. There is cost and time involved in the process, but for stopping the unethical trend of doctors who remain absent in their stations this must be done as a much needed duty.