Jagannath University (JnU) is the second largest public university in Bangladesh after Dhaka University. However, the medical center of the university, serving the 20,000 students, falls far short of expectations.
The medical center only has one doctor and two assistants, who are frequently overwhelmed by the huge number of patients they have to serve daily. A lack of medicines, medical instruments and other accessories further compounds the problem.
Shahida Rumi, a student of the Political Science department, recently passed out when she was in a seminar class. She was rushed to the medical center by her friends, but because of the lack of proper medical implements, the doctor on duty could not identify her problem. She was later transferred to the nearby National Medical College Hospital.
Shahida is not alone in not receiving the required assistance from the university's medical center.
Emon Hassan, a second year student in the Public Administration Department, said: “Because of the lack of proper treatment here, we frequently have to go to other places for assistance. But it is often very costly for us students.”
The university has suffered through innumerable crises and shortages since its establishment. The university does not have residential halls, forcing its students to live in unhealthy and unsanitary apartments in Old Dhaka. Because of the unsanitary living conditions, students are frequently afflicted with diseases, which quickly ramps up costs for the students.
When contacted about the issue, Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Mijanur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune: “Jagannath University has lots of other issues besides the medical center as well. We cannot address all of them in a day. But we are taking steps to address the medical center concerns very soon.”
“On instruction from the Prime Minister, we have selected 200 acres of land to establish another campus. We will have a designated medical center with a separate building on that campus, and all the necessary medicines and equipment will be available there,” he added.
He further said: “We have recently initiated contracts to hire a few expert doctors from the Dhaka National Medical Hospital, and we hope to have the contracts approved very soon.”
Senior Medical Officer Dr Mita Shabnam, the only doctor at the medical center, said: “I am here from 9am to 4 pm, and around 40-50 students come in daily with various illnesses. It is very difficult for me to help them with only two assistants. I also do not have an expert doctor to refer critically injured patients to. So the only option I have is to refer them to the nearby hospital, where they can get treated hopefully at discounted prices.”