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An unforgettable day of bravery and heroism

Md. Sharfuddin Ahmed | December 16, 2022 00:00:00

December 16, 2022, is the 51st Victory Day of independent Bangladesh that was liberated at the cost of blood of millions of people. Had the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, not been born, we might not have got an independent Bangladesh. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the Father of the Nation, has been acclaimed globally for her role in development. The Padma Bridge, which had been a dream for decades, is a reality today. Metro rail, electricity, food, information technology and the establishment of a developed and prosperous Bangladesh are some significant achievements of Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Therefore, this year's Victory Day is much more significant than any in the past.

We have seen many ups and downs over the last 51 years. Bangladesh is transitioning from a least developed country to a developing nation. The United Nations Committee on Economic and Social Development Policy officially declared Bangladesh qualified to transition to a developing country. This has been possible due to the courageous and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

December 16 is an unforgettable day. This day reminds the nation of the pool of blood, corpses, war, and the freedom finally achieved. After nine months, the weapons, which were used by the Pakistani army to kill three million Bangladeshis and take away the dignity of two lakh mothers and sisters, were put down by the occupation forces. Bangladesh emerged as a new state on the world map. Our freedom is the result of the sacrifice of countless people. We remember the martyrs of the War of Liberation with deep respect, we remember the women who were subjected to terrible torture. On this day, we will remember those who sacrificed their lives at various stages of our struggle-from Language Movement to the Freedom Movement. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman successfully led the struggle for establishment of an independent state and the socio-economic and political rights of the people of this country. He was accompanied by a group of political leaders with the same goal. The brave soldiers of the then East Bengal Regiment came forward to fight in the War of Liberation. People of different ways of life also took part in the war. The top killers of 1971 have been executed. Besides, it has also been demanded that the organisation of war criminals and communal politics be banned.

The nation celebrates the day today. It is not a very long time in the context of history, but not at all short when it comes to development. Naturally, the question arises: how much of the goal and ideology with which we fought in the Liberation War has been achieved? The main aspiration from Independence was freedom from all forms of subjugation and the establishment of democracy, justice, and equality in society. In order to ensure the basic needs and human rights of all citizens, nationalism, democracy, socialism, and secularism were adopted as the basic principles in the Constitution of 1972. But it is a matter of great regret that we could not stick to it. One-party rule or military rule repeatedly hampered our progress. We have not been able to consolidate the parliamentary system established after the mass upsurge of the 1990s. Although we have come a long way in achieving progress in the socioeconomic indicators including agriculture, education and health, we have failed to achieve political stability.

Sheikh Hasina's government has maintained the continuity of development. The Padma Bridge is visible. Everyone can see it. But there are many other works the eyes cannot see. But the people are reaping their benefits. One such area is the health sector. The average life expectancy of people has increased to about 73 years. The maternal mortality rate has decreased, and the infant mortality rate has also decreased. Everyone in the national and international arenas agrees that this achievement with limited resources despite a huge population is not an easy job. Bangladesh's health sector has received 16 international awards, including three United Nations Awards, for this achievement of the health sector. Among them, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Award, and South-South Award are especially notable. The formulation of the National Health Policy is a remarkable achievement of this government. The development of the pharmaceutical industry in Bangladesh can be mentioned with pride. Today, medicines produced in Bangladesh are being exported to 147 countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States.

Ensuring healthcare for this huge population is not easy at all. Many people compare our medical system with the medical system abroad. They forget about our country's population and financial capacity; doctor-patient and doctor-nurse ratios. One of the steps in the health sector of the incumbent government is establishment of Community Clinics. After coming to power for the first time in 1996, the Sheikh Hasina government took up this Community Clinic Project, and about ten thousand clinics were set up.

When the BNP government came to power in 2001, it stopped the people-friendly humanitarian initiatives like Community Clinics only for political rivalry. At present, there are about 18,500 Community Clinics in the country; a wide range of healthcare activities are being conducted across the country through the Community Clinics. According to various online surveys and BBS data, more than 90 per cent of the health service recipients at the Community Clinics expressed satisfaction. In addition to increasing the number of beds in Upazila and district-level hospitals, other facilities have also been raised. Various specialized institutes and hospitals including heart, kidney, liver, cancer, neuro, eye, burn and ENT have been established. Nursing institutes have also been established to meet the demand for nurses. Work is underway to set up at least one medical college and hospital in each district.

In 51 years of victory, the country's healthcare sector has achieved commendable success in the eyes of the world. Meeting basic medical needs at a relatively low cost compared to other countries of the world, preventing, controlling, and eliminating infectious diseases, extensive initiatives in the management and prevention of non-communicable diseases, meeting nutrition requirement, huge progress in health indicators, unprecedented achievements in the health infrastructure sector have taken Bangladesh a long way forward.

Bangladesh is already a middle-income country and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is moving ahead to build a developed and prosperous country by 2041. Sonar Bangla, as dreamt by the Father of the Nation, is going to be established in a war-torn country, which is not an easy task at all. This has been possible only under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's hard work has paid off in achieving MDGs. She is also working hard on SDGs, education, health, gender equality, comprehensive development in agriculture, reduction of poverty, increase in average life expectancy, export-oriented industrialisation, and creation of special economic zones and planning for the garment industry, pharmaceutical industry and bettering the economic performances. Besides, the country's mega projects including Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant, Payra deep-sea Port and Dhaka Metro Rail are on the verge of completion. The Super Specialized Hospital at BSMMU is the gift of the Honorable Prime Minister for the nation. It is a new addition to the health services in Bangladesh after the Independence.

At the clarion call of Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, let us all, irrespective of party affiliation, unitedly build a developed, happy and prosperous Bangladesh for the next generation, which will be the only way to materialise the dream of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Prof. Dr. Md. Sharfuddin Ahmed is Vice-Chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University

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