At least 40 patients died at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College in Barisal due to a lack of proper treatment over the Eid holiday as most physicians, including the interns, went on leave.
Sources said at least 224 patients were forced to leave the hospital during the three-day break which started on Friday, while 24 people alone had died on Saturday, the main day of the festival.
Before the Eid vacation, the hospital authorities had announced they would continue to provide “uninterrupted treatment”.
However, of the 10 doctors who were supposed to be on duty at the emergency ward during the holiday, only three could be seen working.
The hospital currently employs 130 physicians, of whom 95 are Muslim. Only 10 Muslim doctors went on Eid leave with most of the others being absent from work without giving any prior notice.
In addition, there are 170 interns including 25 non-Muslims. Of them, at least 30 live in Barisal town, but even then only half of the interns turned up to work during Eid.
Most of the 451 Muslim nurses from the 735 total also took leave over the same period.
Dr SM Sirajul Islam, director of the hospital, denied there was a manpower crisis during Eid.
“The patients did not have to suffer much as we catered to them well. I myself monitored the activities of doctors, nurses and other employees,” he said.
Dr Sirajul admitted to a shortage of fourth class employees but described the registering of 24 deaths on Eid day alone as “quite normal”.
“Those who died were either in a critical state or underweight newborns,” he said.
The 1,000-bed hospital has already been reeling from the shortage of fourth class employees - especially ayas, cleaners and sweepers - and this deepened during the Eid holidays.