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Bangladesh redeploys doctors to fight pandemic

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2021-07-06 16:12:32 BdST


The Directorate General of Health Services, or DGHS, has ordered a mass transfer of doctors, including teaching staff at medical colleges, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Some 1,236 doctors were transferred through a number of separate notifications, according to the DGHS list of transfers and postings. The DGHS issued a notice on the transfer on Jul 5.

Many of those transferred are teachers at medical colleges. The doctors have been appointed to new posts at nearby medical college hospitals, district hospitals, sadar hospitals and upazila health complexes. Doctors have been ordered to report for duty at their new posts within three days of the notification.

Doctors from microbiology departments performing coronavirus tests have also been deployed to COVID-dedicated hospitals.

The Department of Microbiology at Chattogram Medical College has 13 doctors on staff, including lecturers and assistant professors. Five of them have an M Phil in microbiology and work at labs that conduct coronavirus RT-PCR tests. They are among those who have been transferred.

One doctor called the decision “bizarre”.

“We work on PCRs,” one of them said. “These labs are run under the purview of the Department of Microbiology. Transferring us is a bizarre decision. The funny thing is, they are even assigning dental surgeons to coronavirus units.”

The transfer is a government decision and there should not be any objection to it, said Dr Rahat Anwar Chowdhury, joint secretary of the Foundation for Doctors Safety Rights and Responsibility, or FDSR. The transfer of teachers is a notable part of the decision, he said.

“Teachers have been assigned clinical duties, in which they lack experience,” he said. “This will cause some problems. There are some teachers whose sole focus is teaching, such as those in microbiology. They have no clinical exposure. If you order someone like that to go to the field and treat patients, it will be difficult to get the necessary output from them. They will be frustrated.”

Doctors working as lecturers and assistant professors have been redeployed to different hospitals, Health Minister Zahid Maleque told when asked about the issue.

The rush of coronavirus patients at hospitals across the country has worsened and the doctors assigned there are having trouble coping, he said.

As such, young doctors have been reassigned to these hospitals following advice from experts, the health minister said.

“They are under a bit less pressure,” he said. “Doctors at our other hospitals are under an incredible amount of pressure due to the rush of patients. They aren’t able to cope. We are transferring doctors from medical colleges to support them and help handle the situation.”

“This isn’t a personal matter. Doctors are being sent where there is need for them.”

Asked whether it is reasonable to transfer doctors to different locations amid a pandemic, Maleque said: “Most doctors have been reassigned to the hospitals next to the medical college.”

While this is true, the number of doctors who have been transferred to a different district or upazila is not insignificant.

A teacher at Khulna Medical College has been reassigned to Bagerhat, and others from Kushtia Medical College to Meherpur, from Jashore Medical College to Narail and Chuadanga district hospitals, from Satkhira Medical College to Jashore District Hospital.

Others have been transferred from Barishal to Pirojpur and Jhalakathi and from Patuakhali to Barguna and Bhola.

Chattogram Medical College Hospital saw the transfer of 114 doctors, the most among the list. They have been sent to the Khagrachhari District Hospital, the Feni District Hospital, and the Daganbhuiyan Upazila Health Complex.

Doctors from Rangamati College Hospital have been transferred to Bandarban, Cumilla Medical College doctors to Brahmanbaria District Hospital and the Narayanganj 300-Bed Specialised Hospital.

Doctors from Noakhali’s Abdul Malek Ukil Medical College Hospital have been transferred to Chandpur District Hospital and Lakshmipur District Hospital.

Doctors from Sirajganj’s Shaheed M Monsur Ali Medical College and Pabna Medical College have been transferred to Natore District Hospital and from Rajshahi Medical College to the Chapainawabganj 250-Bed Modern Sadar Hospital.