In a recent visit to the FSCD training complex, the ground floor of the building was found totally converted into classrooms. The 1st floor was left as a storeroom of the costly medical equipment including oxygen cylinders, X-Ray machine, ventilators, anesthetic machine, ultrasound machine, ECG machine and pathological instruments.
Two operation theatres were left abandoned at the 2nd floor. The 4th and 5th floors were found as office rooms for the FSDC training complex. However, there was a small burn unit with partition on the 5th floor.
According to project document, five ICU beds, 30 general beds, five trolleys, 30 steel-made almirahs, 50 waiting chairs, five revolving chairs, five medicine trolleys, 15 sets of secretariat table and chair, six hospital food trolleys, eight examination beds, two operation theatres, two emergency trolley beds, 20 sets of computer, 20 compute tables, six photocopy and fax machines, burn tanks, burn trolleys, filter and other surgical instruments were purchased under the project.
However, some of the items including syringes, hand gloves, catheters, wash kits, X-ray films and others purchased four years ago were found expired. The machines gather dust as these are not used.
According to the planning ministry data, at least 330 types of machineries and medical accessories were purchased under the project. Among the purchased items, 46 expired. The remaining others are being damaged for leaving unused.
Economist and mega project expert Fouzul Kabir Khan told Prothom Alo, "There was a loophole at the beginning of the building construction. However, the hospital building, as it has been constructed, needs to be attached to other hospital for providing health services."
Several officers of planning ministry, health ministry and home ministry have observed that the project officials neglected recruitment of the hospital staff. However, they were serious about the construction of the building as well as purchase of the medical equipment.
Recruitment of the hospital staff started after the construction of the building was completed. Four years have been elapsed but the authorities could not launch the hospital because of manpower shortage.
Sources at FSCD said they sought manpower against 152 posts at the hospital. The finance ministry has permitted recruitment of staff only for 38 posts. However, the finance ministry’s permission is awaiting approval from the secretaries’ committee on administrative development.
According to the ministries of finance and public administration, the organogram of Bangladesh Police has posts of physician, nurse and others while the organogram of Bangladesh Army as well as Border Guard Bangladesh requires professionals for their hospital management.
Whereas the FSCD’s organogram has no post for its hospital management, leaving the authorities concerned in a dilemma while recruiting manpower for the burn hospital.
Brigadier general Md Sazzad Hussain joined as FSCD director general two years ago. The hospital was constructed, so as the purchase of medical equipment, before his joining. It would have been better if the hospital was launched by this time. Such of the facilities would have boosted moral strength of the FSCD personnel, Sazzad observes.
“Amendment of the FSCD organogram has been initiated. Soon the complexities in recruitment will be fixed,” he told Prothom Alo.
Although the FSCD hospital was built to serve burn patients, discussions are taking place for changing its category to a general hospital. Some policy makers think that a new burn hospital would be unnecessary as there is the Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute in Dhaka.
They have hinted that the FSCD hospital would be converted into a 50-bed general hospital with 10 dedicated beds for the burn patients.
The home ministry has implemented the project.
Home ministry's security services division secretary Mokabbir Hossain told Prothom Alo, “We want immediate launching of the hospital. A committee led by one additional secretary has been formed. The committee will finally decide the category (whether burn or general) of the hospital and its organogram. We will implement the committee decision.”
The site on which the FSCD hospital erected at Mirpur-10 was previously used as a training field for the apprentice fire rescuers. The field has now become narrowed.
Now FSCD personnel demand that the building has to be converted into a general hospital rather than a specialised one. If the demand is met, their family members can take service from the general hospital.
Talking about the issue, Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Iftekharuzzaman told Prothom Alo, “Leaving the hospital and the equipment unused for four years is wastage of public resources. The hospital was built in an unplanned way. How the project had been completed before ensuring availability of necessary manpower? People responsible to approve an unplanned project and the wastage of public money must face the music."
*This report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Sadiqur Rahman.