A medical team of 144 physicians, 97 nurses, 43 pharmacists and 12 technicians is accompanying hajj pilgrims to tend to their needs if they fall ill while in Saudi Arabia. Having physicians and nurses is understandable, but it is hard to comprehend what 43 pharmacists and 12 technicians will do there.
It doesn’t end here. The religious affairs ministry had formed a 171-member hajj ‘attendant team’ to assist this medical team. Based on their ranks, Tk 8 lac (Tk 800 thousand) to Tk 10 lakh (Tk 1 million) will be spent on each of them from government funds. This team of assistants includes ministers’ security guards, personal officers and even typists. Also included in this assistant team, scientific officer of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, assistant secretary of the public administration ministry, assistant director of the Agricultural University’s sports training centre, land record and survey directorate grainer, accounts officer of the TB hospital, and other officers and employees, have no connection to assisting the medical team.
Why should a ‘team of attendants’ be required at all to assist the hajj passengers’ medical team? Nurses can assist the doctors and they can be accompanied by some cleaners. It would be adequate to send a team comprising physicians, nurses and cleaners. It is absolutely wrong to form a separate team of persons favoured by the ministries and ministers and send them to Saudi Arabia on taxpayers’ money.
It is shameful that 35 members of this team are from Mymensingh alone, the constituency of religious affairs minister Matiur Rahman. It can be questioned whether this is an attempt for the religious affairs minister to gain mileage before the next election. A total of Tk 13 crore (Tk 130 million) to Tk 17 crore (Tk 170 million) will be spent on this unnecessary hajj attendants’ team. Such waste of public money occurs every hajj season. This must stop from this year.