The government has decided to recruit 10,000 doctors before the general elections due in December, the health minister says.Mohammed Nasim said half of them would be taken within three months.
Nasim met the members of the Bangladesh Health Reporters’ Forum or BHRF at Bangladesh Medical Association auditorium on Sunday.
Acting health secretary Habibur Rahman Khan, BMA President Dr Mustafa Jalal Mohiuddin, General Secretary Dr Ehteshamul Haque Chowdhury Dulal, BHRF President Toufique Maruf, and General Secretary Nikhil Mankin spoke at the event moderated by BHRF Vice-President Nurul Islam Hasib.
The minister said they would recruit those doctors through the Public Service Commission’s special measures and post them at rural facilities.
“If we can post those 10,000 doctors, then there will be no shortage of doctors in villages,” he said, pointing to the manpower shortage that he believes is the chief challenge of the health sector.
The health minister has often been criticised for failing to keep doctors at rural postings. In 2009 the Awami League government recruited over 4,000 doctors on an ad-hoc basis and added about 6,OOO others in 2014 through the Public Service Commission.
The government also allowed them to choose their own postings with a focus on going to their own Upazilas. However reports persist that doctors do not stay at their assigned hospitals.
The health minister said doctors have to come to the upper facilities after two years for post-graduate training and degrees.
“The newly recruited doctors will go to those places,” he said.
The health minister did not respond to questions regarding how they chose the number 10, 000 and whether he could ensure that rural people will get services after the new recruitment.
The president of BMA, which represents the collective voice of doctors as a national body, praised the move.
“We need 20, 000 doctors. We cannot take them all together. We are taking them phase by phase,” the BMA president said.
A government doctor, who cannot be named, however, contradicted the suggestion.
“The Next few batches would be deprived when you take such a large number in a year through a special measure,” said the doctor.
He argued that “When you take 10, 000 doctors in a year, then you cannot ensure quality recruitment. It’s a huge number. We have so many private medical colleges and those doctors will easily enter the service because there will be virtually no competition.”
“But after that the next BCS and the year afterwards there will be no recruitment or only 10 or 20 doctors would be taken through the BCS, so those batches would be deprived… meritorious doctors will be deprived.”
“The government could take 500 doctors each other to ensure quality recruitment,” the doctor said.
Currently, the 31 government medical colleges enrol 3,318 students a year while 69 private medical colleges take about 6, 500 students.