Every tragedy and, subsequently, every life lost, was avoidable
It is worrisome that, over the last 10 years, there has been an increase in the number of injuries and deaths caused by fires from gas leakages, stoves, and electric short circuits.
But this should hardly come as a surprise -- Bangladesh’s track record when it comes to safety has been abysmal, unable as we are to forget the horrifying images of the Chawkbazar and FR Tower fires and the Rana Plaza collapse, of the devastation faced by the slum-dwellers in Korail and Chalantika Jhilpar -- to say nothing of the scores of other such incidents which took away the lives of thousands of innocent civilians.
Most recent, of course, was the massive explosion which shook Baitus Salah Jame Masjid in Narayanganj, killing 24 people in the process and injuring dozens of other mosque-goers, many of whom are now hospitalized due to the severity of their burns.
While the reasons for which each of these accidents had occurred may differ, they are all defined by the undeniable culture of negligence, incompetence, and impunity which governs our safety regulations. This means that every tragedy and, subsequently, every life lost as a result, was avoidable.
But the story does not end there: In a recent interview with Dr Samanta Lal Sen, coordinator of Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery (SHNIBPS), Dhaka Tribune found out that, when it comes to the treatment of burn patients, most of Bangladesh’s burn units are ill-equipped and there are not have enough doctors and nurses to tend to the injured, adding to the suffering of victims.
It is encouraging to note that the government has plans to set up a national institute for burns and plastic surgery, but that by itself will not be enough.
This grim scenario must change. We must hold people accountable for their negligence and work towards equipping our hospitals properly to treat burn victims. We can no longer treat safety rules and regulations as mere suggestions.