Pictures carried in time of this raging pandemic, more often than not, tell the saddest tale. Quite a few of those make powerful statements about the eternal bond that sustains humanity. Such pictures transcend the boundary of mere performance of duty. They reveal in one's soul the deepest fountain of feeling and piety for fellow human beings. Words are a poor tool to express or capture the moment in its uniqueness and eternality.
One such picture was published on the front page of a leading Bangla contemporary on June 25 last. It shows a young doctor sitting on the steps of Hatia upazila health complex when his last-ditch effort to revive with the help of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) a dying Covid-19 patient right on the ground in front of the complex ended in failure. When the dead man's son asked about the condition of his father, the doctor had no answer and out of frustration mixed with anguish, he just slumped on the steps of the complex building. His is a representative picture of how a genuine physician feels when all efforts prove in vain to save a life. It is a poignant moment framed in eternity.
Nizamuddin is the name of this physician and he serves as the corona focal person at the upazila health complex there. Dead tired as he was after the day's work at the time (at about 11 pm) the patient was carried by his son on his lap, he rushed to see the patient and started the CPR there because taking the patient inside the complex would have caused loss of precious moments. Yet he fought a losing battle right up to the end. It is this spirit that differentiates physicians like Nizamuddin from many of his peers who have commercialised the profession at its most extreme.
As the frontline fighters, the number of doctors and health workers serving the Covid-19 patients worldwide selflessly is countless. In this country too, they have contacted the disease while treating patients. As many as 65 of them have died of and 1,507 infected with the disease till Wednesday last and there are others who recovered from the disease and then have gone back to perform their regular duty.
Don't these heroes deserve appreciation for the extraordinary role they are playing well beyond their duty's call? When looking up for a national doctors' day through Google search, this scribe became rather surprised and frustrated not to find any day on the calendar. More intriguing is the fact that no doctors' day is observed internationally. Different countries observe their doctors' days on different dates. Neighbouring India has July 1 for commemoration of its Doctors' Day. July 1 is both birth and death anniversary of legendary physician and second chief minister of West Bengal Dr. Bidhan Roy and the day is dedicated to him.
The question that should prick many minds is why there is not an international doctors' day and do physicians in Bangladesh on March 30, being observed in the United States of America as its doctor day, chalk out any programme? No doubt, celebration of the profession dedicated to the service of the ailing humanity can surely serve a noble purpose. Professionals like Nizamuddin must be recognised for their extraordinary commitment to duty. Through celebrations of a day like this, physicians may feel inspired to connect themselves more to the community and at the same time the public may as well appreciate how physicians have to work at times under severe stress and trying conditions.
Of late there has been a tendency of a section of the public to resort to violence against doctors because the dear and near ones of the patients think that the cause of death was negligence or wrong treatment. Only the other day physical assault of a doctor in Khulna in such an undesirable incident led to his death. Ransacking of hospitals by such violent relations of patients is reported from time to time.
Sure enough, some physicians and specialised hospitals -mostly in the private sector -have earned quite an infamy. A common complaint against physicians here is that they do not attend patients properly and before even a patient has finished relating the details of health problems, doctors write out prescriptions for a host of diagnostic or medical tests or check-ups. So far as specialised hospitals are concerned, there are even allegations of withholding release of bodies of patients because their families could not manage to pay the outrageous bills. Another complaint relates to allegedly keeping already expired patients on ventilators in order to inflate hospital charges.
This pandemic has presented an opportunity for soul searching by doctors. Here is a disease that spares none -irrespective of life's station. So there is a need for forging a bond between physicians and the community in general. Overstretched, the healthcare system certainly deserves more attention, more investment and its judicious expenditure.
It is exactly for this reason, a doctors' day should be earmarked for celebration. How about observance of the day on June 25, the day Nizamuddin did his best to save a patient in front of Hatia upazila health complex? Let the community and physicians develop a mutual understanding and come closer to take ahead the healthcare system of the country.