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Without technicians, X-ray machines going to waste for 28 years

An upazila health complex, responsible for providing medical care to at least five lakh people in and around the upazila, has been unable to perform X-rays for the past 28 years due to the lack of a technician.

The clamour for a technician from patients and hospital officials seem to have been falling on deaf ears for a long time.

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Kulaura Upazila Health Complex, established in 1972, currently has three X-ray machines, worth around Tk 70 lakhs in total, allocated by the government at different times. However, none of them are in operation, said Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer Ferdous Akhter.

According to the health complex sources, former finance minister M Saifur Rahman inaugurated the first X-ray machine worth Tk 14 lakh in 1995. Later, in 2006, another X-ray machine worth TK 35 lakhs was allocated. Recently, a digital X-ray machine worth Tk 23,19,000 was allocated just three months ago. However, the government failed to appoint a technician for the hospital in all these years.

The X-ray room has been turned into a storeroom. The first two machines have become non-functional due to lack of use, the newest one will also stop working if not used, said hospital officials.

"After getting the new X-ray machine, I have sent several letters to the higher authorities to appoint technicians," said Ferdous Akhter.

Patients from the upazila and surrounding remote areas rely on the hospital for healthcare. An average of 500-600 outpatients and 100-150 emergency patients are treated daily at the hospital. Around 50 of these patients require X-rays on average, said hospital sources.

Such patients, including emergency ones, are sent to get X-rays done from private hospitals in the area. They also have to pay extra for the X-rays as private hospitals charge more than government ones.

"I was recently injured in a road accident. But, since there is no X-ray service at the hospital, I paid Tk 1,000 to a diagnostic centre and showed the report to the doctor at the upazila health complex. We have to deal with the hassle due to the lack of a single technician," said Tarek Hasan, a resident of Pabai village in Hajipur union of Kulaura, who came to the hospital for a follow-up.

When asked, Moulvibazar District Civil Surgeon Chowdhury Jalal Uddin Murshed said he knew about the absence of a technician. He said he conveyed the matter to the central authorities several times.

"Technicians are recruited centrally from the Directorate General of Health Services. Central authorities and the civil surgeon's office are working to solve the issue," he said.

Without elaborating, he added that authorities will also fix the X-ray room soon.