05/23/2014, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Bangladesh Catholic doctors provide free medical care to 248 tribals

by Sumon Corraya
The Association of Bangladesh Catholic Doctors (ABCD), which is affiliated with the local Bishops' Conference, organised a mobile clinic in the Diocese of Mymensingh. "We live in the woods and there are no hospitals nearby," said one local. In the country, there are only five doctors and two nurses per 10,000 people.

Tangail (AsiaNews) - The Association of Bangladesh Catholic Doctors (ABCD), which is affiliated with the local Bishops' Conference, has set up a free mobile clinic in Tangail (Diocese of Mymensingh) for residents from the more remote and less accessible areas of Bangladesh.

Last week, at the church of the Body of Christ, Catholic six doctors, including a nun, carried out a comprehensive check-up for 248 people, mostly ethnic Garo. Nirmala Rema, one of the women who have benefited from the treatment, spoke to AsiaNews about it.

"We live in the forests and if I want to get to the main road it takes me at least an hour and a half," she explained. "The means of transportation are no good yet expensive, and there are no hospitals nearby. But even when we make it to a government hospital we do not get good treatment."

At the surgery instead, "they gave me medication, advice, love and TLC. This was only possible because they were Christian doctors."

The parish is located in a remote area of the diocese. Roads are muddy, it is very hot and often there is no electricity.

"This surgery has been of great help," Nirmala said. "We would like to see ABCD set up more of them."

In Bangladesh, the health system has serious shortcomings in terms of facilities and staff. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, doctors are able to serve just 54 per cent of a population of more than 164 million people.

According to ABCD data, there are only five doctors and registered two nurses per 10,000 people.

"We have a social responsibility because our government cannot reach all those in need," said Edward Pallab Rozario, the association's general secretary.

"This is why every year we organise mobile clinics and distribute free medicines to the poorest and neediest communities," he told AsiaNews.

ABCD was created in 2008 with the support of the Health Commission of the Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh.

"There are more than 100 Catholic physicians in the country," Dr Rozario said.

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