As I write this, after weeks of suffering from a serious allergy attack that led to my hospitalisation, I am angry with myself for not having enough money for proper treatment here in London.
My experience tells me that free treatment as in Dhaka is almost the same as in London.
Free treatment for residents in Britain is given under the banner of the National Health Service (NHS), which is currently under a funding strain, as facilities appear to be decreasing in Britain.
It all started with an itch. After repeated visits to the NHS doctor known as a GP (General Practitioner), I was prescribed antibiotics and antihistamines.
Despite repeated requests, they refused to do a blood test and prescribed medication guessing that the allergy was either from food or an insect bite.
Unable to bear it any longer, I booked myself into the private BUPA Cromwell Hospital in Central London.
Tests were carried out and I waited for the results. But before the results came, I was hospitalised with high blood pressure and even suffered an anxiety attack.
Despite the moral support of my colleagues, I felt lost and worried.
In Dhaka, most of us are privileged enough to be able to see a specialist in no time -- and I realised how lucky we are back home.
I was treated with antibiotics and antihistamines and pills to bring down my blood pressure. An urgent blood test confirmed infection strains and allergy strains in my circulatory system.
Healthy, if you’re wealthy
Then came the BUPA Hospital specialist results, at a huge cost.
It was confirmed that the allergy was due to some insect bite.
The doctors calmed me saying how allergies were very common in Britain around this time of the season, for various reasons, and that I should be careful about insects.
My Bangladeshi compatriots blamed it on bed bugs -- a very common problem in England -- but I could not find any in my house.
I was also told that it took time to get cured when suffering such bites. My medication continues and I hope I will be OK.
Our country has improved, with falling maternal and child mortality rates and medical colleges doing a wonderful job though there is much room for improvement
Now I am booked with an allergy specialist. These private treatments, at one go, cost almost as much as my entire month’s wages.
But you need money if you want to get cured properly and quickly.
So, in Dhaka, as well, government health services are criticised, which is why most people opt for expensive private practitioners in order to receive a proper treatment.
But I guess our country has improved, with falling maternal and child mortality rates and medical colleges doing a wonderful job, though there is much room for improvement.
We need more dedication and good behaviour from the doctors and staff in government hospitals.
Government leaders have praised some achievements by our doctors and have asked Bangladeshis to stop rushing to foreign countries for treatment, unless it’s a must.
We need to enhance our budget for government hospitals and doctors to ensure better treatment for the masses.
A life gone too soon
Something else worth noting is the death of my colleague’s wife at the hands of the NHS. He alleges widespread mishandling of his wife’s case, something that eventually led to her premature death.
My colleague, who is now struggling to survive with two infants and one job, is now accusing the NHS doctors of “unethical medical practices, racial discrimination, negligence of treatment, and unprofessional medical practice.”
His wife gave birth to their second child on November 2, 2015 and passed away on May 7, 2016 with many post-natal complications due to a lack of satisfactory treatment.
The husband is now seeking justice. But his wife will not come back and his life is in tatters. Unless one sees this man closely nobody will understand the misery that he is living with.
But, had he the ability to go to a private hospital, his life may have been just the opposite -- a happy family with a new member and so much to celebrate.
Nadeem Qadir is the Press Minister of Bangladesh High Commission in London.