Four intern doctors from Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College Hospital (SZMC) in Bogra, who are also members of SZMC unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), had assaulted a patient’s relative in the hospital on February 19. The accused allegedly beat up the relatives of a 65-year-old patient named Alauddin Sarker, after one of the interns was asked by the patient’s son to turn off a fan, reported our Bogra correspondent.
On recommendation of the probe committee investigating the assault, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare suspended the internship of the four accused intern doctors for six months on March 2. After complying with the suspension, the four intern doctors will be barred from coming back to SZMC and will have to complete their internship in four different medical colleges.
Dr Kutub Uddin, one of the suspended interns, who is also the former vice president of SZMC unit of Chhatra League, declared on Saturday afternoon after an hour-long human-chain programme in Bogra that interns of SZMC were going on an indefinite strike until the decision of suspension was reversed.
Following suit, intern doctors at different medical college hospitals in Dinajpur, Barisal, Khulna, Sirajganj, Rajshahi and Sylhet went on a 72-hour strike on Saturday and also organised human-chain programmes protesting the suspension and transfer of the four interns from Bogra.
“As interns from different institutes are joining in the strike, they cannot do anything without us. We would go on a harder line if the suspension and transfer are not reversed,” added suspended intern Kutub during the protest.
Thousands of patients at these hospitals have been suffering due to the strike and many of them have questioned the ethical standpoint of interns participating in the strike, as the four accused were punished because of assaulting a patient’s relatives.
Shafiul Islam Opu, an intern doctor from Rajshahi Medical College who is participating in the strike, said, if doctors are assaulted by patients and their relatives, authorities do not take any action, but in the Bogra case, authorities promptly acted, as this time, doctors were the perpetrators. “Such difference in treatment is injustice. If our safety is not ensured, how can we work?” he asked.
He also claimed that implementing the Medical Services Act to protect doctors was being delayed, leading to the agitation of interns.
Health Minister Mohammad Nasim, who was in Chittagong on Saturday to inaugurate a 31-bed Kidney Dialysis Centre at Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMC), said to the reporters: “The interns in Bogra were suspended because they had assaulted relatives of a patient. This (the strike) is very regrettable. I hope that the interns involved in the strike would soon understand their mistake. We can never support a strike that risks lives of patients.”
Interns of CMC and Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) did not join in the strike till the filing of this report. Whereas, interns from Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barisal, Dinajpur Medical College, Khulna Medical College, North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Sirajganj, Rajshahi Medical College and four different hospitals from Sylhet including Osmani Medical College Hospital joined in the strike, our correspondents reported.
Professor Dr Saidur Rahman, director (Hospital Line) of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said to the Dhaka Tribune: “As it is a matter concerning medical students, director of medical education is trying to resolve the issue by communicating with all the hospital directors. We have already talked to interns at Dhaka Medical College Hospital to keep them from joining the strike.”
DGHS Director General Abul Kalam Azad conveyed the Dhaka Tribune that all the hospitals were instructed to contain sufferings of patients as much as possible during the strike. “Regular doctors have been asked to cancel their day offs to disperse the pressure, he said.