The Bijoynagar Upazila Health Complex in Brahmanbaria was built on a budget of Tk25 crore to provide healthcare services to nearly three lakh people.
It has been a year since the facility was inaugurated, but the 50-bed hospital offers minimal healthcare services, does not have the necessary equipment, and lacks government appointed doctors and staff.
Plagued by such major issues, the modern healthcare facility has remained mostly unused since its inception.
According to the authorities concerned, the Bijoynagar Upazila Parishad began administrative activities in August 2010. At that time the authorities decided to provide healthcare to local people in four rooms of the Champaknagar Union Parishad building. The upazila is made up of 10 unions.
The construction of a four-storied 50-bed health complex began on a three-acre plot of land in Champaknagar on January 19, 2016, and was completed on February 28, 2018.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Bijoynagar Upazila Health Complex on November 1, 2018 through video conference.
Featuring a modern infrastructure, the health complex has cabins, three operation theatres and separate wards for men, women and children. However, the hospital lacks the essential manpower and equipment needed to provide proper healthcare.
Only 20 of the 50 beds have arrived at the hospital so far, along with some other furniture. Since the medical equipment has not arrived there yet, the furniture, which will be used to hold the equipment, has been locked away in a storage room.
Eight doctors have been transferred to the Bijoynagar health complex from other union healthcare facilities due to a lack of government appointed physicians. These eight doctors are currently providing treatment for common ailments such as cold, fever and cough.
The hospital has appointed five temporary staff members because the government is yet to appoint anyone. They are being paid with money earned from ticket sales to patients. The facility also distributes medicines to patients by borrowing drugs allotted to other upazila health complexes in the district.
The district civil surgeon's office said that the infrastructure of the Bijoynagar Upazila Health Complex is more modern than that of other upazila healthcare facilities in the region.
The office submitted a manpower requisition notice to fill 82 positions, including those of doctors and staff in the hospital, aiming to fully launch the facility. But the authorities have only approved 46 positions.
The finance ministry's Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division set the pay-scale for the 46 positions on January 6, 2014. But the appointment process has not begun even after several years.
Under the circumstances, Brahmanbaria Civil Surgeon Dr Md Shah Alam has taken an initiative to keep the hospital running.
He has brought doctors from other union health complexes to provide healthcare to people of Bijoynagar. The hospital gets 50-60 patients every day, but local people are not satisfied with getting only basic healthcare services.
Bijoynagar Upazila Health Complex Medical Officer Dr Hamida Mostafa told The Business Standard, "Even though am posted at the Champaknagar Union Health Complex, the authorities told me to provide healthcare at this hospital because there are not enough doctors here."
Meanwhile, the upazila health complex's medicine distributor Iqbal Hossain said, "I and four others are working here as temporary staff. I distribute medicines, another person handles the ticket counter, the other two are cleaners and one assists the doctors.
"We only distribute medicines to patients suffering from common ailments. No other healthcare services are provided here. We get paid every two-three months. We work here in the hopes of getting government jobs at this hospital."
A Champaknagar resident named Habibur Rahman said, "This is a large hospital, but they are unable to provide us with proper healthcare. We still have to go to the hospital in the district sadar area. What is the purpose of this hospital then?
"It was surely not built to provide treatment for just colds and coughs. We demand that the hospital be provided with necessary doctors and equipment as soon as possible."
In response to a query, Civil Surgeon Dr Md Shah Alam said, "Despite the Bijoynagar upazila health complex being a modern hospital, we are unable to provide necessary healthcare to patients due to the unavailability of government appointed doctors and equipment.
"We have contacted the departments concerned over this issue on multiple occasions. I hope these will be resolved soon."