Four sub-health centers in Ajmiriganj upazila in Habiganj are grappling with a severe shortage of doctors, leaving hundreds of patients in dire need of medical attention. Despite an increasing influx of patients, these centers remain devoid of doctors, forcing nurses and pharmacists to bear the burden of delivering healthcare services.
In this upazila, there are two sub-health centers and two sub-health and family planning centers. However, doctors are conspicuously absent from these facilities as they are preoccupied with their private clinics and chambers.
Despite the existence of four medical centers, countless residents are left without essential medical services. Although doctors have been officially appointed to these centers, they are yet to provide their services. The negligence of doctors has resulted in residents of four unions in Haornachal upazila being denied access to healthcare.
Doctors, on the other hand, claim that they are not stationed at these centers because they lack a proper routine setup. Instead, they are obligated to fulfill their duties at the Upazila Health Complex. The hospital authorities have vowed to investigate the reasons behind the doctors' failure to attend the sub-health centers despite receiving their assigned routines.
Upon visiting the Shibpasha, Jalsukha, Badalpur, and Kakailcheo union sub-health and family planning centers, it is evident that midwives are the ones providing medical services. These centers are supposed to have at least one pharmacist, but all four centers currently lack this crucial staff member.
Some patients lamented the lack of doctor availability, expressing that even during different times of the day, they do not encounter any physicians. Instead, they receive basic first aid from individuals whose titles remain unknown to them.
Quduch Mia, a resident of Shivpasha Union, shared, "I have visited the sub-health center numerous times, but I have never encountered a doctor." Titu Mia of Jalsukha village echoed this sentiment, stating that doctors are a rare sight at the sub-health center, compelling them to seek treatment elsewhere.
Pranab Das and Vijay Das, residents of Paharpur in Badalpur Union, disclosed that a doctor only visits their sub-health center once every two months, with some months passing by without any doctor at all.
When questioned about this issue, the doctors on duty at the sub-health centers claimed they had not been provided with a routine and redirected inquiries to the health officer.
Dr. Md. Iqbal Hossain, the Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer, explained, "Out of 14 doctors in our upazila health complex, only 9 are currently available. Due to this shortage, we are striving to maintain medical services as best as we can. We have routines for doctors assigned to sub-health centers, and we will investigate the reasons behind their absence."
Dr. Md. Nurul Haque, the civil surgeon of Habiganj, acknowledged the doctor shortage issue and clarified the priority hierarchy for medical services. He stated, "We prioritize 250-bed hospitals first, followed by the Upazila Health Complex. Our primary focus is on ensuring medical services at district headquarters and upazila hospitals. Once that is assured, we will extend medical services to sub-health centers. Currently, there is a dire lack of medical treatment options for our community."
The healthcare crisis in Ajmiriganj upazila underscores the urgent need for solutions to bridge the doctor shortage and ensure that residents have access to vital medical care.