A majority of nurses working in government hospitals across Bangladesh have yet to follow the new uniform guidelines, which replaced the iconic white sari with olive-coloured shirts and trousers.
As many as 60,000 male and female nurses are upset with the new dress code, with many saying their recommendations for a new uniform were not taken into account.
The objections concern both the fabric of the new uniform and its olive colour, with several organisations likening it to the uniforms used by prison guards and Ansar members.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the change in nurses’ uniform in 2014. Responding to the announcement, several organisations proposed a new iteration of the uniform on November 29, 2015.
The Directorate of Nursing Services, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, approved a new uniform for nurses on November 21, 2016.
From February 5 of this year, the Bangladesh Nursing and Midwifery Council directed nurses working in government hospital to follow the new dress code.
The nurses were requested to follow the new dress code again on May 5, but a majority of both male and female nurses continued to wear their old uniforms.
According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the new uniform for both male and female nurses consists of olive shirt and cap, black trousers, black shoes and black blazers during winter.
Female nursing supervisors, principals of nursing colleges and institutions, lecturers and instructors were directed to wear sari, olive high-neck blouse and royal blue belt.
The dress code for female nursing college students consists of olive kameez, cross belt, cap and black salwar. Male students were directed to wear olive shirt, black trousers and black shoes.
The council also set light purple dresses as the uniform for working in district hospitals, and a light pink uniform for diploma midwifes.
“The majority of the nurses are not satisfied with the new uniform,” said Lili Begum, organising secretary of Bangladesh Nurses Association’s branch in National Institute of Chest Disease and Hospital.
Mentioning the name of a few non-government hospitals, Lili said: “If we are to dress as nurses working at those hospitals, we would also need similar working environment and infrastructure.
“We will need central air conditioning if the uniform is too thick. And if the fabric is too thin, it will not be able to shield us from health hazards in the hospital.”
Bangladesh Diploma Nurses Association Senior Joint Secretary General Md Asaduzzaman Jewel said he has sought the immediate intervention of the authorities to resolve the issue after more than 60,000 nurses objected to the new dress code.
Several nurses working at Dhaka Medical College Hospital said the new uniform design is making them uncomfortable, as they have nearly reached the end of their careers and most of them are in their 50s.
Meanwhile, responding to a query by the Bangla Tribune, Director General of Bangladesh Nursing and Midwifery Council Tandra Shikder said: “There is still time for the new dress code to be implemented.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune