Farzana Rahman treats rural people in Singrai where proper health care is not easily available and accessible
It was the beginning of her career in 2015, just after she graduated from Dhaka Medical College. Farzana Rahman received a call late at night from a diagnostic centre in Natore where she used to work as a part-time ultrasonologist.
A pregnant woman was in labour. Doctors were trying to decide if she needed a caesarean section, and this depended on the unborn baby's heartbeat and its position in the womb.
"I could not go as it [the centre] was quite far from my home, and it was not safe to go out in the darkness at that hour," Farzana said.
The news of the infant's death the following day came as a shock, which she said "was a turning point in my life" that was to set her on a passionate journey to ensure quality healthcare for her community.
Farzana immediately opened a diagnostic centre at Singrai, about 20km from Natore town, but later transformed it into a hospital. Her first objective was to reduce the mortality rate of newborns and mothers during delivery in the impoverished area. She completed her post-graduation in gynaecology to attain her goal.
Now her hospital, named "Dip Medical Services", provides health services round-the-clock at minimal cost and in cases free of cost when the economic condition of patients is dire. Freedom fighters and elderly people above 60 get special discounts on diagnoses and treatment.
"My hospital is equipped with modern machines that even upazila health complexes do not have. I chose to stay in this rural area and treat people because here proper medical care is not easily available and accessible unlike cities."
The lack of healthcare services forces local people to opt for treatment by quacks. Farzana wants to change that.
Her motive is very clear – if people in the community get quality healthcare, they will live a healthy life, which in turn will give them a degree of social and economic elevation. Two other doctors, six nurses and 11 other staff members, mostly women, help Farzana fulfil her commitment.
Last year she initiated an effort to provide healthcare services to a larger number of people. She now goes to four nearby unions once a month to treat people and raise awareness about proper healthcare. Every Friday, her centre organises an awareness session and free health check-ups for pregnant women. It also provides patients with nutritionally-enriched meals for free.
"I started the hospital with my own money out of social obligation. My aim is to work with all to ensure that no one suffers from maltreatment," Farzana said in a recent interview with The Business Standard.
Observing her efforts, many influential and well-off people came forward to share the responsibility that Farzana took upon herself about five years back.
"If I can inspire other doctors to serve people in rural areas, it will be a great thing and the country will see immense development [in healthcare]," Farzana added.