On 9 January 2022, while virtually addressing the foundation stone laying ceremony of establishment of 460-bed comprehensive heart, kidney and cancer treatment units in medical college hospitals at the country’s eight divisional cities, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called upon the renowned physicians to spend some time on research. She said, “We are setting up medical universities for conducting research along with providing treatment as research is inevitable in medical science.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also said that the government has been establishing medical universities in divisional headquarters where post-graduate level doctors will continue their study. She asked the doctors to conduct research and the government would do the needful as required. Referring to the establishment of biotechnology institute in Savar, she has said that research in the field of biochemical, biomedical, genetic engineering and oncology is badly needed in the country. She highlighted the establishment of different institutes in the health sector of the country by her government. Her government’s thrust should be for qualitative and dependable treatment facilities. We know that the government has recently taken the decision to provide free of cost health services to children below one year and persons above 65 years.
It is to be mentioned that Bangladesh Awami League, in its Election Manifesto 2018 on health sector, had pledged to- (1) provide health services free of cost to children below one year and persons above 65 years, (2) establish a medical university and a 100-bed self-contained cancer and kidney treatment centre in each divisional city, (3) modernize community clinics, (4) introduce modern technologies in the health services centres and hospitals, (5) ensure the quality of services and the availability of medical person in rural health centres and (6) introduce treatment of heart, cancer and kidney in every medical college hospital.
The establishmentof 460-bed comprehensive heart, kidney and cancer treatment units in medical college hospitals of the country’s eight divisional cities would fulfill the present government’s election pledge it had committed during the last election campaign. In fact, the government has fulfilled many of its election pledges in the health sector and it is expected that the remaining pledges would be looked into for implementation within next two years before completion of its 5-year tenure. We must appreciate the government for its sincere efforts in keeping its commitment. We also expect that the government will not be confined in its election pledges only; it would go further to ensure better treatment facilities for its people.
Research in the higher education, whether it is in public or private universities, for general education or technical, including agricultural, engineering, marine or medical science, is very crucial for researchers as well as for the image of that institute. For conducting research works, an institute must have the base of quality education to prepare its students to conduct research and the required research facilities. If our universities cannot ensure the basic requirement of quality education, how will it find capable researchers from its students? This issue should get priority before providing a university with necessary research facilities. We should give such responsibilities to those institutes who hold enough strength to bear that load. Otherwise, a big tree will grow with its branches and leaves, but will give no fruits.
However, when we talk about research, particularly research on medical science, it counts a lot of other ingredients, like quality medical education system of international standard, required research facilities in medical science in all medical universities, adequate sophisticated research equipment including technical and supervisory supports, necessary budgetary allocation from the government or own funds for research, etc. The government may like to sign memoranda of understanding with developed countries rich in medical science for their cooperation in developing our research field. One cannot deny that our experienced doctors remain so busy with their patients that they have no time to give for even going through a medical journal. Then, how would they be able to give time for any research work? This is a big concern to rethink.
That’s why we see thousands of our people are going abroad for treatment every year. They are spending millions of our hard-earned foreign currencies. But these are the patients who have enough money to get better treatment and they can choose that. But the rest people of the country, particularly the poor section of our people, have no way but to remain here at the mercy of our doctors or seeking help either from the Almighty Allah or the power they believe. This is the reality, whether one believes or not. Any way, we hope to overcome this situation in future as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ensured us that her government would put best efforts for qualitative and dependable treatment facilities in the country.
Finally, I would like to mention that we have no other alternative, but to introduce international standard education system as well as research facilities with adequate fund in our medical universities as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said, “research is inevitable in medical science.” We are confident that this would also strengthen our journey of becoming a developed nation by 2041.
The writer is a former Ambassador and Secretary