One and a half month old Mishkat was admitted to the Sara Union Health Complex and Family Planning Centre in Ishwardi on July 20 with a urinary tract infection. Iqbal Hossain, the assistant community medical officer at the health complex, suggested circumcising the baby.
Iqbal performed the circumcision himself. Mishkat died after Iqbal gave the baby two injections. Iqbal has been absconding since then.
Mishkat's mother Rozi Khatun said, "Iqbal told us to come to the health complex after 3-4 days. We went to see him after 7 days and he gave my baby two injections. A few moments later my baby died on my lap. The medical officer has been absconding since then."
Joygan Begum, the baby's grandmother said, "The doctor wanted Tk1500 for the circumcision. And for Tk1500 only, he played with the life of my grandson. Such fake doctors should be punished."
Many pharmacy owners including most quack medical practitioners in Pabna use the title 'doctor' in violation of the law of the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC). Though there are specific policies mentioned in existing laws for using the title 'doctor', many in Pabna use it arbitrarily.
Because of a lack of proper monitoring, quack village physicians, medical assistants and even grocers treat patients and use the title 'doctor' before their names. Many people face various health hazards, including fatality, after going to see such fake doctors.
The BMDC is the only authorised institute to certify doctors. According to the BMDC Act 2010, article 29, no one can use the title 'doctor' without having an MBBS or a BDS degree. Violation of the law is a punishable offence, and anyone who does so can be sentenced to jail or face a monetary fine.
However, many people ignore the law in most places in Pabna. These quacks even hang signboards in front of rice shops bearing a doctor's name, and even have a 'doctor's chamber' to treat patients. They con people out of a lot of money this way.
These fake doctors, who have been practicing illegally for a long time, have not faced any problems yet. Some of them even say they are not aware of the BDMC law.
Proshanta Malakar, who is using the title 'doctor', said, "I did not know that there is such a law [of BDMC]. If there is indeed such a law, I will not use the title."
Sirajul Islam, who introduces himself as a doctor, said he has obtained the degree from the Ishwardi Upazila Health Complex, which is ludicrous.
These so-called doctors quite often prescribe excessive medicines and high-dosages of antibiotics. As a result, the patients become antibiotic-resistant and suffer from many side effects. This uncontrolled use of antibiotics may cause severe problems in the health sector.
Dr Saleh Muhammad Ali, a certified medicine specialist, said, "If someone is not registered with the BMDC, he is not allowed to use 'doctor' before his name. In our country, quack village doctors and even pharmacy owners use the term 'doctor'. They usually prescribe antibiotics without having a proper knowledge about it. Sometimes they prescribe high-dosage antibiotics for ordinary diseases. So, our body becomes antibiotic-resistant which can have alarming effects in the future."
People used to die of common illnesses before Alexander Fleming first invented antibiotics in 1940. The same thing will happen if people become antibiotic-resistant. Doctors will be able to identify the diseases but will not be able to treat them because no antibiotic will work in the human body, he added.
Dr Sirajul Islam, a laparoscopy surgeon at Pabna Medical College and Hospital, said, "The antibiotics that were effective five to six years ago are not working at present. Even high-level antibiotics such as meropenem do not work as they should. Uncontrolled use of antibiotics is the only reason for this."
As antibiotics are costlier than other medicines, people usually do not complete the course when their illness subsides. This causes a resistance to those antibiotics, and they will not work in the future, he added.
Dr Mehedi Hasan, the civil surgeon in Pabna, said, "Using the title 'doctor' without registration from the BDMC is a punishable offence. We will take action if there is any specific complaint."