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OP-ED: Restoring our image

  • Published at 08:24 am July 25th, 2020
tests
We must rise to the occasion to prove again that we are resilient and can turn around REUTERS

Fake tests and certificates cannot be allowed to continue

The recent disclosure of false Covid-19 tests in Bangladesh has sufficiently stirred public opinion in the country. It has also drawn stern reactions from the outside world to our detriment which has far-reaching implications. 

Bangladeshis in Italy are facing the brunt of this when in a township even soldiers have been deployed to ensure that infected Bangladeshis in quarantine do not go out. They are being treated as “veritable viral bombs.” 

A number of countries by now have declared a ban on allowing entry to our citizens, and some airlines have stopped carrying any Bangladeshi passengers. This came as a severe blow to Bangladesh when we so badly need to revive closed opportunities for our migrant workers abroad. 

Thousands of our migrant workers already came back while there are many more stranded in a good number of countries, languishing in tremendous uncertainty, having no clue to their wherewithal. We know very well that foreign remittance is our second-largest source of foreign exchange after RMG.  

Damage of unprecedented order has already been done to our economy, the image and wellbeing of thousands of people who have been victims of this heinous nexus of cheating. They have been robbed of their money, the right for treatment, and even the right to life and livelihood.  

I strongly believe unnecessary blaming and criticism of the government, our establishments, and the system will not avail us anything. I am sure our police, media, people in the administration will not miss a chance to do everything required to bring the culprits to the task and identify the network involved in such a heinous affair. 

But beyond legal and administrative steps which should follow its natural course, are there other aspects which we need to focus on as measures towards damage control? 

I shall draw here a semblance to the Rana Plaza crisis which happened in April 2003 and served a severe blow to our business, economy, and image by raising a global outcry to the unsafe working conditions in our RMG sector. 

But this bane was turned into a real boon following which we have witnessed tremendous activities which helped us overcome the shock and the image crisis and established our RMG sector on a firm footing. 

This had been a turning point for Bangladeshi RMG. There had been millions of dollars poured in to identify problems in structural and safety aspects, environmental issues, improve the quality of working environment, and gain confidence in the international community. 

We saw how all stakeholders swung into action, sponsored and initiated by Accord and Alliance who tenaciously carried out inspections of thousands of RMG establishments, brought to light their observations, and helped the investors in rectifying, developing systems which needed to be installed in order to maintain the desired standard. 

The result was spectacular. We have been able to establish our image and restore the business to its great stride. Nobody now talks about Rana Plaza anymore. 

It is worthwhile mentioning here that our army is doing a great job in its operation Covid-19 Shield. It is putting in genuine efforts in protecting the nation with whatever resources are placed at its disposal. We have seen how the military hospital has become a trusted refuge for many of our esteemed senior citizens for their treatment of the coronavirus. 

We cannot undo whatever has happened. We have no choice but to accept those and put in our efforts to unearth all tentacles of evil mongers and go to every level to find the actual spread of the obnoxious activity. Legal matters are time-consuming and will take its own course. 

In the meantime, we have to rebuild our image from the ashes. This will entail a complete overhaul of our entire health care system. Our armed forces can be of immense help to render assistance in terms of manpower, training, and management, etc. 

To start with, initially, we can concentrate on a few selected establishments, achieve the desired standard within a given time frame, and then can go on replicating those. It is time we need to invest in building robust testing systems, not only for Covid-19, but any health-related investigation for that matter where people can get those done with trust and confidence. 

Our tests and investigations have to be world-class with which our citizens can travel with confidence anywhere in the world. We need to train our medical professionals and technicians and have the required tools and appliances of the desired standard. 

We have to develop a competent watchdog to monitor our hospitals, clinics, and laboratories, public and private. We have to build extensive capacity for inspections and compliance audits of service providers. 

Can we not develop an efficient and very stringent regime through which we can put all our institutes, where we train our professionals and technicians? We need to train them in terms of skills in specific areas and impart good communication skills. 

Thus, we can make a brand of our own like south Indians being employed in many countries, including the Middle East. 

This crisis can very well be turned into an enormous opportunity if we can put our hands together to work with a real resolve to build a system of accountability, not exploitation, shouldering responsibility, not playing the blame game, planning pragmatically, and implementing those meticulously instead of dilly-dallying. 

This is a wonderful opportunity where we can all work together to make possible the rise of the phoenix of prestige and honour for our country from the ashes of defamation and humiliation.  

We have to contemplate and set our priorities right before we take our first steps. If we could make it in RMG, we definitely can make it in the health sector. We always bask in the glory of our resilience as a nation. 

Here is a real challenge making a clarion call and we must rise to the occasion to prove again that we are resilient and can turn around. 

Brig Gen Qazi Abidus Samad, ndc, psc (retd) is a freelance contributor. He can be reached at [email protected]  

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