Medical staff, led by Dr. Shajib, discuss the treatment and care of patients. © BDRCS
Dr. Sakandar Hyet Khan (Shajib), 30, could have chosen to practice anywhere, like at a private clinic in the urban centers of Bangladesh where the dynamic doctor would have quickly become a renowned medical specialist. Instead, driven by a desire to help his community, he chose to take up the role of Health Project Manager at the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, leading the organization's medical staff in Cox's Bazar.
With a team of sixteen dedicated personnel under his supervision, Dr. Shajib looks towards a positive future and to making improvements to the health facilities in local communities.
"I was fortunate, and in return, I feel that I have to help others, I have to lead by example. The challenges that I have faced as the Health Project Manager have enriched me. I feel happy when I see the faces of patients that benefit from our project," says Dr. Shajib.
Improving health care
In June 2014, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS), supported by the ICRC, began a health project at the Teknaf and Ukhiya health complexes on the request of the Government of Bangladesh.
Both health complexes were rather neglected, lacking resources and appropriate medical infrastructure. Since the arrival of the BDRCS team, the health complexes have significantly improved.
In the early hours of every morning, multicolored rickshaws and auto rickshaws can be seen rushing to the health complexes, bringing patients who often cannot afford any other means of transportation.
Rozina Akter, a mother of 2-year-old patient says: "Day or night - no matter what time we come, we are always welcomed and provided with immediate care from the doctors and nurses working in Teknaf health complex."
Staff have been known to develop personal attachments with patients. Rubi Akter, 25, the BDRCS nurse working in Ukhiya shares her experience: "Once we had an emergency where a 60-year-old man was having difficulties in breathing. We thought that we had lost him. But with the efforts of the entire medical team, he got better. After he recovered from the emergency he thanked us, and at that moment I truly felt over the moon."
The BDRCS health care project aims to bring quality medical treatment and care to the patients in the Teknaf and Ukhiya health complexes. In less than a year's time, over 12,000 patients benefited from the services.
Dr. Mohammed Bakhtiyar Alam, sub-district (Upazilla) Health and Family Planning Officer in Teknaf, says: "To work in such a densely populated area and provide people with quality care was far from being an easy task. We faced severe shortages of resources and appropriate medical infrastructure. With the involvement of BDRCS, our services have considerably improved."
BDRCS and ICRC renovated water supply systems, sanitation facilities and electrical equipment at the two complexes. The emergency room in Teknaf health complex is currently under construction and will shortly be able to provide health care to more patients. Cleaners, deployed by the BDRCS, assist with the daily cleaning in both health complexes, and ICRC provided temporary incinerators a few months ago so medical waste, hazardous to human health and environment, could be better handled.