An elderly couple had the most horrible experience of their lives at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka last year, as the woman saw her husband suffer and finally die because of the absence of any proper medical support, amid negligence by the airport authority, she claimed.
Selina Islam and Mir Rafiqul Islam were scheduled for a flight to Norway aboard Qatar Airways at 2:30am on October 26, 2017. Around midnight, they arrived at the Dhaka airport and queued up at the Qatar Airways’ check-in counter to obtain their boarding passes.
“While waiting in queue at the check-in counter, around 12:45am, my husband Mir Rafiqul Islam suddenly collapsed on the floor. I immediately asked for help, but no medical assistance was available. Approximately 20 minutes later a female doctor arrived, checked his pulse and performed CPR, but he was unconscious and not responding. She then suggested I take my husband to a nearby hospital,” Selina told the Dhaka Tribune.
“I requested the doctor for an ambulance but she denied the request and asked me to call an ambulance on my own, and left the scene.”
Selina then sought help from a passers-by who helped her husband on to a wheelchair, and brought him out of the terminal to a drop-off point to find a taxi.
“I waited approximately 40 minutes there to find a taxi, and kept seeking help from people but nobody came forward. After finally managing to find one, I took my unconscious husband to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and Hospital at Sher-E-Bangla Nagar where doctors at the emergency ward pronounced my husband dead,” she said, describing her helpless situation.
According to clause 8.5 of Chapter 8 and the provisions of Chapter 12 of the Aviation Public Health Manual of the Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB), Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is supposed to have adequate medical services and supplies available at the Airport Health Department to deal with medical emergencies that may occur at the airport.
But no such medical services or supplies or assistance or even an ambulance was available or offered to Selina Islam.
According to the Aviation Public Health Manual, “the dispatch of casualties to hospitals from the accident site should take into consideration the hospital(s) medical personnel on staff, medical specialities and beds readily available. Ambulance available with Airport Health Department shall be utilized as on-call ambulance for routine medical emergencies. Written agreements with off-airport based ambulances should be prepared to provide for emergency transportation services.”
“I lost my husband. This is a painful memory. If they [airport authorities] responded on time with proper assistance, my husband could have been alive today,” said Selina.
CAAB and Dhaka airport’s failure to provide emergency medical services to Selina Islam to deal with her husband’s medical emergencies is a clear violation of fundamental principles of state policy as enshrined under Articles 15 and 32 of the Constitution of Bangladesh.
Unavailability or lack of medical services and supplies at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to deal with medical emergencies is a regular phenomenon now.
While this Dhaka Tribune correspondent was waiting to board a flight, she suddenly felt sick and looked throughout the immigration lobby but failed to find directions to find a doctor or any emergency service.
The airport does not have any directions about where to get emergency medical help.
The correspondent later sought help from the immigration police who called for emergency medical help. After waiting for 10 minutes, a doctor and an assistant arrived.
They came and checked her pressure and found it to be low. As such, they suggested her to have some food and gave her a pack of saline to make on her own. She asked the doctor to help her get the food and water but they refused and said to seek help elsewhere.
She then said she was alone and having trouble walking but the doctor came up with the same answer.
The Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is a very busy airport, and facilitates hundreds of flights and thousands of passengers every day.
However, passengers have consistently reviewed the airport negatively in terms of facilities. Many websites revealed a bunch of negative comments by passengers where they mentioned the airport being dirty and offering little or very bad facilities.