A spate of unfortunate incidents, that would be woeful enough were they not so tragic as well, serves well to define the challenge ahead for Dr Samanta Lal Sen, the newly anointed health minister of Bangladesh, who possibly carries in with him the biggest hopes and expectations on the part of the public of any minister in the present cabinet. In his earlier role in life he gained hero status among his peers and also the wider public as the chief coordinator of the Burn Units across Bangladesh, which often put him at the frontlines of our society's schisms that would eventually translate to violence.

He hit the ground running with his efforts to ensure as clean a process as possible for this year's 'medical' entrance exam. Just days earlier he was hailing the achievement of Bangladeshi doctors in successfully separating a pair of conjoined twins, which had just been completed at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU). Noting that many students in the country are becoming doctors after completing medical studies every year, the minister said, "Our doctors are as skilled as they are talented. Just increase the opportunities and give them the opportunity to work with confidence according to their responsibilities. Then no patient from Bangladesh will have to go abroad in the future."

It's a fair point. But what do you say, or do, about a system that at the same time also witnesses the two deaths of children getting the simple process of a circumcision done, within 6 weeks of each other. Ahnaf, a fourth-grader at Motijheel Ideal School and College, had died while undergoing circumcision at JS Diagnostic and Medical Checkup Centre in Malibagh on 20 February.

Earlier, on 8 January, five-year-old Ayaan died after undergoing circumcision under full anaesthesia at the United Medical College Hospital in Satarkul. According to a health directorate order in the wake of the latest incident, institutions labelled as diagnostic and hospitals, but possessing only a diagnostic or hospital licence, are not authorised to offer services specified in their name unless they acquire the appropriate licence. The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has now directed Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC) to take action against three doctors of Malibagh's JS Diagnostic and Medical Checkup Center over the death of Ahnaf.

In a somewhat belated statement issued over the order, Dr Sen said, "We are noticing that some unscrupulous people are setting up mediocre hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic centres just for their business interests, ignoring any rules of the government.

They are doing business with people's lives...Still over 1,200 private health centres are not registered." You couldn't help but feel it was all a bit belated. He could have even pre-empted it, by warning against it. Appropriate action would obviously then have taken time. But you cannot help but feel that way.

Yet he chose to dwell on the noble slide of the profession, of which he is a shining example. But to be a successful health minister for Bangladesh, the good doctor will soon find you must deal with all sorts.

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