More than 500 contracted COVID-19, Bangladeshi nurses serve front line amid drawbacks

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Even as Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed authorities to ensure the safety of health workers, nurses in the country are squirming about getting low wages and long work hours.

Like in other countries, while nurses in Bangladesh have also emerged as frontline combatants to fight the coronavirus or the COVID-19 pandemic, experts believe their low numbers are affecting the country’s health system.

On eve of the International Nurses Day that was observed on Tuesday coinciding the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, health workers were demanding further recruitment of nurses, which is much below global standards.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) data, the country has only 3.06 nurses to provide services to every 10,000 population.

While nearly 50% of the global health workforce reportedly constitutes nurses and midwives, their number is even lesser than doctors in Bangladesh, with just 50,000 of them serving a population of 165 million.

Speaking to Anadolu Iqbal Hosen Sabuj, a nurse at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, the central point of public health services of all government hospitals in Bangladesh, said that as a class-two employee, a nurse earns approximately 30,000 Bangladeshi takas [$352] per month.

“We have no other income sources, unlike doctors who have other options. We have to deal directly with patients including coronavirus infected cases most of the time, more than even doctors,” Sabuj said.

He said that nurses have to spend more time with patients directly than doctors.

“It is even very tough to run our families modestly with this salary to match the rising prices of daily commodities,” he added.

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