It has been eight months since the inauguration of the ‘Super Specialised Hospital’, a hospital meant to provide high-tech technology driven medical treatment to its patients.
However, not only have the authorities at Bangabandhu Shiekh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) failed to make the hospital fully operational, but they have also failed to admit a single patient in the hospital.
Sources at the health ministry and BSMMU have said, at least four top level meetings have taken place in May about opening the specialised hospital. In the meetings, it was decided that a chief executive officer (CEO) will be appointed for the hospital.
It was also decided that the hospital will be opened before 1 July. Now under pressure, the authorities are trying to open the hospital in a haphazard manner.
The hospital in Shahbag has been constructed to the north of the BSMMU’s Cabin Block and C Block and to the West of Hotel Intercontinental.
“One of the main goals of the new hospital is to deliver advanced treatment using modern technologies. For example, the patient’s blood sample will go to the laboratory through a medical device, the test reports will automatically be sent to the physician’s computer.Professor Dr Md Zulfiqur Rahman Khan, project director, Super Specialised Hospital
The construction of the hospital building and purchasing the high-tech medical devices have cost around Tk 15 billion (Tk 1,500 crore). Out of this, the South Korean government lent Tk 10.47 billion (Tk 1,047 crore). The government issued a grant of Tk 3.38 billion (Tk 338 crore) and the remaining Tk 1.75 billion (Tk 175 crore) was financed by the university.
More than five thousand people daily receive treatment in the outdoor wing of BSMMU. The hospital also has 1500 beds for patients and provides treatment on 46 different specialties. Still, there is a demand for a specialised hospital.
On 30 May, Specialised Hospital’s project director professor Dr Md Zulfiqur Rahman Khan told Prothom Alo, “One of the main goals of the new hospital is to provide improved treatment using modern technologies. For example, the patient’s blood sample will go to the laboratory through a medical device, the test reports will automatically be sent to the physician’s computer. Cameras are attached with operation lights in every operation theatre. If anyone makes a mistake during the operation, they will be caught and the medical students can also see the operation without being in the operation theatre in person.”
The project manager further said, the hospital has specialised washing machine that can wash five thousand clothes every hour, a device which can process 40 kg medical waste an hour. A state-of-the-art disinfection device has also been installed. In total, around three thousand small and large devices have been imported from different countries for the hospital.
We will try to open the hospital within this month.Professor Md Sharfuddin Ahmed, vice-chancellor, BSMMU
The specialised hospital has been divided into five centres. They are– emergency treatment and trauma centre, nephrology and kidney transplant centre, mother and child care centre, cardiovascular disease and stroke centre and hepatobiliary, pancreatic, hepatology and liver transplant centre. Every centre is fully furnished with medical devices.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the hospital on 14 September 2022. Since 22 December, some patients have been receiving treatment in the outdoor wing. But there are complaints that the hospital still isn’t fully operational due to the incompetence and short sightedness of the university administration.
On 30 May, on the ground floor of the hospital, some staff were seen opening boxes and taking out devices and an official was taking pictures of their activity. In the mother and child care centre, there was a row of plastic wrapped devices. The workforce required to run these devices still haven’t been appointed.
In the booklet published on the hospital’s inauguration, it said that one thousand employees would have to be hired to run the hospital. However, the proceedings of the health ministry meeting on 3 May showed that the university syndicate has so far appointed 184 employees, which means, 82 per cent of the required employees still haven’t been hired.
However, university sources said that 70 more people have been hired without the syndicate’s approval. Last month, Prothom Alo published a report on similar irregularities in BSMMU’s recruitment process.
In the meeting on 3 May, it was said that to operate the specialised hospital, a CEO must be appointed, and a workforce structure needs to be finalised. It also said that the hospital has to be completely opened by 1 July.
When asked about when the hospital will be fully up and running, BSMMU vice-chancellor professor Md Sharfuddin Ahmed told Prothom Alo, “We will try to open the hospital within this month.”
He also said that they are planning to bring staff from BSMMU temporarily to run the specialised hospital. If required, they will also bring equipment from BSMMU.
Meanwhile, the BSMMU authorities have sent letters to different departments of the university, saying that the departments need to send a portion of their earnings to the Super Specialised Hospital every month in order to run the new hospital.
A letter signed by the university’s additional registrar Swapan Kumar Tafader was sent to the cardiology department’s chairman, which said that the department has to send Tk 3 million (Tk 30 lakh) every month.
BSMMU director (finance and accounts) Gour Kumar Mitra told Prothom Alo, he knows nothing about it. He claimed that the finance and accounts department wasn’t consulted about the letter nor do they have any information on the matter
A number of professors from the cardiology department told Prothom Alo that there is no rule or law in the university about sending money to the specialised hospital. They claimed that this demand is totally illegal. The Super Specialised Hospital should run with its own earnings or with the financial assistance of the government.
BSMMU director (finance and accounts) Gour Kumar Mitra told Prothom Alo, he knows nothing about it. He claimed that the finance and accounts department wasn’t consulted about the letter nor do they have any information on the matter.
*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy