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Dhaka Tribune

Requests sway transfer orders

Update : 07 Apr 2014, 10:36 PM

With the country’s health sector already struggling with a shortage of doctors in the rural areas, rampant interference by influential figures in meddling with transfer orders are further plaguing efforts at ensuring healthcare for all.

Different quarters – including cabinet members, lawmakers, bureaucrats, political and doctor leaders – were allegedly imposing their interference on authorities concerned to sway decisions on the transfers, posting and education leaves for junior doctors.

Officials at root-level health facilities told the Dhaka Tribune that despite holding junior posts, some doctors often called in favours from influential figures to exempt themselves from being transferred.

Recently, a senior health official of Rangpur division had transferred a junior doctor from Lalmonirhat to a Nilphamari hospital, after local lawmaker and Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor submitted a semi-official letter to the authority concerned seeking recruitment of doctors at Nilphamari to meet the shortage of health officials.

However, no sooner than the posting order was given, several influential officials from the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly began to try and cancel the posting order. When the senior Rangpur official mentioned Noor’s letter and the health minister’s directive on not cancelling any posting without his direction, the PMO officials reportedly threatened him with dire consequences if he failed to cancel the posting order.

Following the threat, the health official notified the issue to a director of the DGHS and sought his suggestion.

Such scenarios of exercising influence were common throughout the country, said several senior officials of the health ministry and the Directorate General of Health Services.

Seeking anonymity, they added that field-level officials have failed to follow repeated instructions from the prime minister and the health minister to show “zero tolerance” on such issues. The crisis had worsened in the root-level in recent years, reportedly because of falling number of doctors working at local health facilities. The vacuum had been created as a large number of root-level doctors had moved to cities on deputations, as attachments, or for higher studies.

Meanwhile, according to the DGHS’ annual bulletin for 2013, the country currently had 6,198 vacant posts for doctors.

Asked about the pressures coming from influential people, Dr Md Shah Newaz, director (administration) of the DGHS, said all senior officials at divisional, district and upazila hospitals have been told to contact the health minister if they received any illegal recommendation. On another note, the director said the shortage of manpower in the health sector would be overcome after 6,000 new doctors are recruited through the 33rd BCS exams. 

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