>Firoza, a 22-year-old burn patient, was screaming in pain when the ward assistant (Aya) was changing her bandages. The aya was removing the gauze mercilessly from the wounds on her chest, hands and abdomen; she was never trained for this and had many other things left to do.
Trained nurses usually do this job in hospitals of Bangladesh but as there are very few nurses, the ayas do it alone, Mahbuba Zannat of The Daily Star writes in the first part of her investigative report on the state of nursing profession of the country.
“As the number of nurses is inadequate here and they are busy with other work, it is the norm here that the ayas would change the bandages in exchange for Tk 100,” said a relative of a patient complaining to The Daily Star correspondent about nurses’ poor quality training, behaviour and non-cooperation.
However, doctors and nurses defended themselves saying that their inadequate numbers hinder good services to patients. The doctors and nurses also talked about the nurses’ not getting promotion and the lack of quality training for them.
Recruitment of nurses in public hospitals is halted for last five years. In 2003, 1,034 nurses were recruited and since then no recruitments were made even though every year around 1,200 nurses graduate from government nursing institutes and approximately 10,000 nurses are unemployed at the moment.
“Here we do not get a nurse to give saline to a patient when we need them to do it,” said Project Director of Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) Shamantalal Sen adding that if the shortage of nurses continues, patients will die without getting proper care. He said it is not possible to provide good service to 234 patients on an average day at the Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit with only 31 nurses.
It is very difficult to provide good service to such a large number of patients with only two nurses per shift working in one section of the unit, he said.
Second Part: 10,000 trained nurses remain unemployed