A group of nurses yesterday demonstrated at a programme of Health Minister Zahid Maleque for not recruiting them as per the prime minister's announcement.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has recently ordered the appointment of 6,000 nurses to strengthen the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the health ministry has recruited 5,054 nurses.
The demonstrators alleged that the ministry has deprived 176 nurses – who have come out successful in written and viva tests for recruitment – of appointment.
They demonstrated at the Directorate General of Nursing and Midwifery in the city's Agargaon, where the oath-taking ceremony for the newly-appointed nurses took place. The health minister was present there as chief guest.
At the end of the programme, the minister reassured the demonstrators saying that he would talk to the higher authorities about their demand. The protesters went away after that.
The aggrieved candidates gathered in front of the nursing directorate around 9 am on Thursday, before the beginning of the oath-taking ceremony. Police intervened several times to pacify the demonstrators.
One of the candidates who have claimed to be deprived of appointment said the prime minister in 2016 ordered appointment of 11,365 nurses. Accordingly, same number of candidates became successful in both written and viva examinations – under the Public Service Commission (PSC) – for appointment.
She further said the government appointed 5,127 nurses in 2018 in the first phases, while another 5,054 were appointed from the rest of the qualified candidates in the last week.
The candidate further said the prime minister had ordered recruitment of 6,000 nurses but the health ministry has appointed 5,054 -- meaning 946 posts still fall vacant.
"It is very painful for the 176 candidates from those who had qualified in the public service commission's examinations to be deprived of the appointment," the nurse continued, "We have talked to the PSC. They have asked us to go there on May 17. But that day is a government holiday. In such a situation, we have nowhere to go now. And that is why we went to the nursing directorate to meet the health minister."
Speaking to The Business Standard, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said, "Although 6,000 nurses were supposed to be recruited, we have given appointment to 5,054 of them as per recommendations from the PSC. We are looking into the matter of those candidates who came out successful in recruitment tests but have not been appointed."
Bangladesh Nurses Association President Ismat Ara Parvin said the government could have appointed all 6,000 nurses as per the announcement made by the prime minister. She said she had discussed the matter with the health ministry, the public administration ministry and the PSC.
She said the health ministry had informed her that it will take further steps in this regard as per instructions from the public administration ministry and the PSC.
The public service commission had assured her of looking into the issue after its office would reopen.
Ismat Ara Parvin said alongside doctors, nurses have also been infected during the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Our demand is that the health ministry will immediately arrange recruitment of other nurses as per the declaration of the prime minister. It will create jobs for the unemployed nurses on the one hand and they will play an important role in tackling the virus on the other," she added.
At the programme, Zahid Maleque said, "The number of coronavirus infections has increased slightly in our country due to the opening of garment factories. Still, the situation in Bangladesh is much better than in many other countries."
The capital is the riskiest place in the country, he added.
He called upon new nurses to show their dedication in the fight against the coronavirus.
Siddika Akter, director general of the Directorate General of Nursing and Midwifery, presided over the programme.