Before the pandemic, the 250-bed Jashore General Hospital, a government hospital, would conduct at least 25 routine surgeries daily but now the numbers have come down to four to five on average as doctors do not attend duty properly citing pandemic.
There has been no surgery in the otorhinolaryngology or ENT (ear, nose, and throat) department of the hospital for the past 18 months. Other departments have also seen a significant fall in the number of surgeries.
According to sources, the reduction in the number of surgeries is not due to fewer patients but due to the unwillingness of surgeons to do their job, which has adversely affected patients from four districts – Jashore, Magura, Jhenaidah, Narail – who depend heavily on the hospital for treatment of both regular ailments and critical conditions.
One such patient is Faruk Hossain, 30, from Gourinathpur village of Jhenaidah's Kaliganj Upazila, who has been suffering from nasal polyps for several months. He came to the hospital in June when the on-duty doctor suggested surgery to get relief from the condition. The doctor told him to get admitted to the hospital on 9 August for surgery.
When he got admitted on the given date, the doctors instructed him to come to the hospital after lockdown. Faruk eventually had to get the surgery done at a private clinic after his condition took a turn for the worse, since there was no further progress towards his surgery at Jashore General Hospital .
Another patient, Milon Hossain, 33, came to the hospital on 17 August with nasal discomfort and discovered that he needed the same surgery. But the doctor asked him to come to the hospital on 7 December for an operation.
Jashim Uddin from Jashore's Enayetpur village is yet another patient who was denied surgery, not once but twice. He got admitted once to the hospital for esophagus surgery in July but he could not get the surgery done that time. Later in August, Jashim got admitted to the hospital for surgery again, but his surgery got rescheduled yet again.
According to sources, despite such a lax approach to routine surgeries at the government hospital, many of the hospital's surgeons are actively carrying out procedures at private hospitals for money.
This correspondent approached the residential medical officer (RMO) of the hospital on the matter.
In response, RMO Arif Ahmed said, "It is true that the number of surgeries in the hospital has gone down in the pandemic but no department has entirely shut down. We had to temporarily stop all surgeries except for the urgent ones for a month in July as we were renovating the operation theatre, but it is up and running now."
The superintendent of the hospital Dr Akhteruzzaman said, "We will make sure surgery is done regularly and will take necessary measures regarding this within a week."