Why open specialised hospitals haphazardly?

The country’s health sector does not align with the vision of Smart Bangladesh. The super specialised hospital has been built at a cost of Tk 15 billion, which could have been a model medical institution of the country. However, it encountered setbacks at the very beginning due to the inefficiency and negligence of those in charge. It is an institution under Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the BSMMU Super Specialised Hospital on 14 September 2022. Outdoor services began from 27 December. A total of 1000 employees were supposed to be recruited to run the hospital. Only 250 people have been appointed as of now. There have been allegations of favouritism and irregularities against BSMMU vice-chancellor Sharfuddin Ahmed regarding this recruitment process.

In this context, health minister Zahid Maleque said, "We came to know that there have been allegations of irregularities regarding the recruitment of that institution (Super Specialised Hospital). We will form a strong committee to look into the matter. The committee will not include the VC. We are going to do this to ensure transparency in recruitment.”

Earlier, the matter of appointing relatives by the BSMMU VC made headlines in Prothom Alo several times. But we are not aware of any action being taken by the Ministry of Health. The explanation given by the health minister that since BSMMU is an autonomous institution, the government does not have much to do, is not acceptable.

Having autonomous power does not allow these institutions to run at the whim of individuals and quarters. Any organisation is run by laws and regulations. There is no such provision in the university law that the government cannot take actions against those who flout these rules and regulations. Despite its autonomous status, it is run with taxpayer’s money. Therefore, the people have the right to know where and how that money was spent.

According to Prothom Alo, eight months have passed since the inauguration of the Super Specialised Hospital, but the BSMMU authorities have not fully start this specialised hospital. So far they have not been able to admit any patients. This is very unfortunate.

Health ministry and BSMMU sources said four high-level meetings were held in May to launch the specialised hospital. The hospital has been asked to be operational by 1 July. Now under pressure, the authorities are trying to open the hospital. The aim of this hospital is to provide advanced health services with advanced technology. The patients' blood samples will go to the laboratory through a medical device, the test reports will automatically be sent to the physician’s computer.

Why are the authorities delaying in admitting patients when the essential medical equipment is procured and the infrastructure is ready? Every year an average of 800,000 Bangladeshis go abroad for medical treatment and it costs millions in foreign currency. When the specialised hospital is fully operational, it is likely to reduce the number of patients going abroad. The government also promotes the idea of building a developed and smart Bangladesh. But the country's medical sector remained outdated. So the super specialised hospital should start functioning with due preparation and not haphazardly.