The Financial Express

A good initiative gone awry

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In this country, even the positive developments are not quite unmixed. At a time when the government has focused on developing technical expertise instead of educating average young learners in general education with no relevance to demand of the employment market, how its positive initiative gets frustrated can be exemplified by an incident. To its credit the government has established medical assistant training schools (MATS) in different areas of the country. The academic and administrative buildings, staff quarters and hostels of one such MATS at Rajoir under Madaripur was completed two years ago. But it could not be inaugurated so far for reasons best known to the authorities concerned.

Reports have it that the teaching and administrative staff could not be appointed and therefore there is no question of starting the academic functions of the institute. If such well-furnished buildings are left unused, there are anti-social elements who do not hesitate to abuse the precinct. This is exactly what is happening there. Drug addicts have discovered a safe haven there and the local people, although they have objection against such anti-social activities, are helpless before the goon. What could be a most positive agent of change in numerous young people's life, has now been allowed to get desecrated at the hands of the anti-social.

True, there are also such private institutes that operate with the accreditation from the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BM&DC) apart from those in the public sector. But those are far away from this area. Here is a low-lying area where vast swamps keep people isolated for most of the year. If the MATS at Rajoir started its academic curricula, a large number of students could avail of the opportunity.

No doubt, the MATS can contribute immensely to the healthcare service of the country provided that the four-year course prepares students according to the need. In Western countries, paramedics make precious contribution in emergency situations until they are placed in expert care of specialised physicians in hospitals. The health assistants, beside helping doctors in various ways under their direction, can equally be of great service in health emergency. In that case, the hospitals should introduce emergency service like those in the advanced countries.

Under the system, an emergency phone call is what a critical patient's near and dear ones have to make. An ambulance rushes to the address in double quick time and the paramedics know well enough how the patients' initial care has to be provided. In case of long distance or traffic congestion, such medical aid proves particularly useful. Of course, in the advanced countries they have air ambulance when time gap proves most critical.

Bangladesh is yet to reach that stage of medical help in health crisis. But certainly if the medical assistants are trained up to prolong the life by way of specialised medical aid on way to hospital, things can improve a lot in health services of the country. The MATS at Rajoir therefore must not be subjected to such neglect. All the MATS both in public and private sectors must develop their curricula in order to train the health assistants in a way that they can serve like the paramedics in Western countries.

Already more than Tk260 million has been spent on the construction of the infrastructure. It was ready two years ago but there is no certainty it will start functioning from this year too. This is unacceptable. In many instances infrastructure is half done or the construction delayed but here things are different. Money in this case has been spent for a worthy cause and the rest of the procedure should be accomplished soon in order to make it commensurate with the job done so far and the government's stated plan. 

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