Only two doctors have been tending to patients round the clock for the last three months at the 50-bed Birganj Upazila Health Complex in Dinajpur.
Of them, Dr Afroz Sultana, who is six-months pregnant, was supposed to be on her maternity leave while Dr Somoresh Das should have been on medical leave after fracturing his left collar bone in a bike accident last Wednesday.
Still, they have been defying the challenges for the great cause of their noble profession.
Asked, Das said he could have passed his time staying at home to heal.
“But the pain of the patients is bigger than any other thing. That's why I did not take any leave.”
Sultana's response was similar.
“It would be an injustice if a person returns without treatment”, she told this correspondent.
Visiting the hospital on Sunday, Das, with a sling strapped around his left shoulder, was seen attending to visiting patients at the health complex.
The sight had become a common one.
Kalipada Roy, a patient, said he was moved seeing the doctors treating hundreds of visiting patients, although they were not fully fit themselves.
“Such a bond between doctors and patients can hardly be seen in other hospitals or health complexes in the country,” he said.
“They [the two doctors] made the hospital proud.”
For now, every day is a long day for the two doctors. They attend the outdoor patients of the populous upazila that has about four lakh people in 11 unions. The duo also takes care of the admitted patients and is present even during late night emergency calls.
“On Monday, around 300 patients visited the health complex. Of them, 50 were admitted,” said Dr Zahangir Kabir, the other physician at the health complex, but one holding an administrative post. He also acts as the Family Planning Officer of Birganj upazila.
Kabir said they were left with only two attending physicians after the resident medical officer was transferred three months ago.
“Both the doctors desperately need rest. But they come to the health complex every morning and attend the visiting patients till afternoon.”
Sultana needs urgent leave to take care of her unborn baby, he said.
“We now have three doctors against 30 posts. These two doctors are not enough to treat the large number of patients every day. Besides, doctors are humans and they too can fall ill.”
The civil surgeon is aware of the lack of doctors here, he added.
Contacted, Abdul Kuddus, civil surgeon of Dinajpur, told this correspondent on Tuesday that his office had informed the issue to the director general of health and a doctor was posted there on deputation, who was yet to join.
Mohammad Ali Khan, director of Directorate General of Health Services, told The Daily Star that in every upazila hospital there must be six doctors --- three RMOs and three medical officers.
“In Birganj, we have already posted three more doctors. They will join soon,” he said.