The health services in the upazila health complexes in Khulna have collapsed. Most of the doctors have stopped serving patients at government hospitals showing the excuse of coronavirus infection, while the private clinics are taking advantage of this opportunity.
It is found that although there are 24 doctors at Dumuria Upazila Health Complex on paper, in reality three to four doctors are found to be serving patients there.
As a result, without having the necessary medical services, patients rush to the nearby private clinics around the hospital.
It has also been alleged that doctors visit the Upazila Health Complex to register their attendance. After doing so, they move to the private clinics to serve patients there.
Visiting the emergency department of Dumuria Upazila Health Complex on Saturday morning, the reporter found Abu Hasan, deputy assistant community medical officer, was serving a patient there.
Although Syeda Nishat Mariam, another medical officer was on duty, she was not available there right at that moment. The reporter was told that she was serving outdoor patients.
Until 11.30am, three patients received medical treatment in the emergency department. Kazi Mofizur Rahman and Sajjad-ur-Rahman received treatment in a room of the outdoor department in that time.
However, there was no doctor in the outdoor department at that time.
The hospital's pharmacist Dibakar Mandal said that about 120 patients, including males and females, had received medicines.
Fatema Clinic and Diagnostic Center, located in front of the health complex, has been locked down since June 21. But the other clinics in the upazila are open.
Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer Dr Sheikh Sufian Rustam said that the activities of the Pathology department were stopped as the pathology technician has been taken to the coronavirus unit of Khulna Medical College Hospital.
Besides, other departments including X-ray, ECG are closed for the time being, he added.
Meanwhile, ignoring government regulations, private clinics have mushroomed next to the Terokhada Upazila Health Complex.
All these unlicensed clinics do not have sufficient equipment, operation theaters, adequate electricity supply and alternative electricity systems.
Besides, there are no skilled doctors there, while the service charges are uncontrolled as well.
Investigations found that at least five private clinics have sprung up near the Upazila Health Center in Terokhada upazila sadar.
Even amid the Covid-19 outbreak, patients gather in those clinics from early morning to late at night.
Surgeries in these clinics take place randomly. But the clinics do not have sufficient equipment, no proper operation theater, and even no adequate power supply.
Moreover, the rooms in the clinics are narrow and dirty. And there is a minimal cleaning which results in some strong odours.
The owners of the clinics have some bondage with the village doctors, pharmacy owners and some officials and employees of the health complex. They manage the patients for the clinics and in return, they get commission per patient.
Meanwhile, no one was available at the Terokhada Upazila Health Complex except the health and family planning officer and the residential medical officer.
Md Asaduzzaman, upazila health and family planning officer said that a written complaint was lodged with the Civil Surgeon's Office to take action against them.
Furthermore, medical services are being severely disrupted in the 50-bed Upazila Health Complex at Dacope in Khulna because of the shortage of doctors and human resources.
Common people rush to private clinics as they do not get medical treatment at Paikgachha Upazila Health Centre.
Most of the people do not want to visit hospitals fearing coronavirus infection. Moreover, there are no doctors in the hospitals all the time, said Majida Shahbaz, a resident of the upazila.
Nasima Begum,a resident of the municipality, said that the doctors sent her to Khulna city without proper examination.
Five clinics and eight diagnostic centres have been set up next to the 50-bed hospital, where the government hospital doctors are directly involved.
While visiting Paikgachha Upazila Health Complex on Saturday at 11am, the official in the reception said that Dr Nitish Goldar, the departmental head of the Medicine department, was serving patients out of the clinic. He also told the reporter that the doctor would be available after an hour.
Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer Dr Mozammel Haque Nizami said that the hospital used to have about 150 to 200 outdoor patients every day.
"However, the pressure of patients is relatively lower now. There were also patients suffering from various complications in the indoor departments. Though it is a 50-bed hospital, over 100 patients get admitted every day. So, there are some crowds here," he added.
A similar scenario was found in Rupsha, Dighalia and Koyra Upazila Health Centres.
Dr Sujat Ahmed, civil surgeon of Khulna said, "Action will be taken accordingly if the health officer informs him about the shortcomings of the health complexes in writing. Moreover, the doctors will be advised to be more careful while providing medical treatment."