Maksuda Akter took her 13-year-old daughter Farzana Akter suffering from fever, cold and sore throat to Azimpur School Health Clinic on March 11. The doctor prescribed three medicines — one for fever, an antibiotic and another for gas — each for seven days.
However, the girl was only provided three strips of the medications from the clinic.
Seventy-year-old Joynab Bibi has gastric issues. When she visited the doctor at a public clinic, she was provided medicine enough for three days. “They told me to return after three days to collect more medicine,” she said.
MBBS doctors provide treatment at 17 public dispensaries in Azimpur, Hazaribagh, Johnson Road, Mirpur and other areas from 8am to 2:30pm every day, except government holidays. These dispensaries also provide free medicine prescribed by the doctors.
However, due to high demand and low supply, full doses of medications are not always provided. Although the patients are told to return at a later date for collecting the rest of the medications, many of them do not. This means many patients do not complete their doses.
Bangladesh Food Safety Authority has been running a campaign to raise awareness about how indiscriminate use of antibiotics by patients is making the bacteria in the body antibiotic resistant. In this case, although the authorities are talking about preventing the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, the picture is totally different at government dispensaries.
Tejgaon Health Complex’s resident medical officer Dr Abdullah Al Maruf said: “What we do is, we provide [medicine] for two or three days instead of a week. When we fail to do it (provide the full doses), we ask the patients to return after three days for collecting rest of the medicine.
“Those who visit us live within walking distance from here. We try to provide full doses to those who come here from a distance.”
About irregular usages, he said: “There are some antibiotics that need to be taken once a day. Some others have to be taken twice. But it is not always possible for us to provide all the medicine at once.”
However, Dr Mahbuba Afsari, medical officer at Mirpur 10 government dispensary, said they try to provide the full course of antibiotics. “In case of shortage, full courses are not given for some medicines. But we usually provide the full course of antibiotics,” she said.
Food Safety Authority member Md Mahbub Kabir rued the unregulated use of antibiotics. “The indiscriminate use of antibiotic is rampant. Some of them are of bad quality and ingredients. People’s resistance is being destroyed by taking these antibiotics,” he said. “We have issued letters about these matters.”
Dhaka district Civil Surgeon Dr Md Ehsanul Karim said: “The law stipulates that antibiotics must be sold as per prescriptions. But most of the dispensaries do not have licenses.
“To get a license, a dispensary must have a pharmacist. The Directorate General of Drug Administration is supposed to look after this but apparently they do not. They have 15 district officers who have no workers under them.”
He continued: “Our government dispensaries cannot provide full doses of antibiotics. It is not possible because of total government management. Everybody knows about the condition of our allocation. We always request the government for higher allocation.
“The total allocation for the health sector is six percent. This should be higher. In fact, this statistics shows the condition of the health sector.”
This article was first published on banglatribune.com