The sufferings of tens of thousands of patients across the country, particularly impoverished ones, are mounting as the x-ray machines of most of the state-run hospitals have remained inoperative for the last two years.
Official sources said the x-ray machines of upazila and district hospitals, eight specialised hospitals, 12 medical college hospitals and two 250-bed hospitals could not be operated because of the dearth of x-ray films.
"Hundreds of government-owned hospitals have stopped x-raying patients due to non-availability of x-ray films," an official of the Health Ministry said declining to comment further.
Sources alleged that hundreds of imaging machines are almost "out of order" as the Central Medicine Store has not supplied x-ray films against the demand for the same since 2003 for reasons best known to the authorities of the central store.
A large number of x-ray machines got rusts for remaining idle for such a long period, sources said.
"In addition, a large number of radiographers and radiologists are drawing their salaries sitting idle," relevant sources said.
The central store is supposed to supply x-ray films against the demands of the government-owned hospitals.
Though the government had allocated Tk 20 million in 2004-05 fiscal, a vested quarter did not procure films in connivance with the importers and diagnostic centres, it is alleged.
The former Director of the central medicine store Brig Gen Sarkar MA Matin allegedly pocketed a huge sum of money from the importers and diagnostic centres as the latter are cashing in on the crisis, reliable sources said.
The former chief of the central store also cared little about a directive issued by the Health Minister Dr Khondker Mosharraf Hossain to purchase the films as quickly as possible, sources alleged.
In a review meeting on the allocations for the health sector, the minister gave directive to all public health agencies to purchase necessary medical equipment and medicines.
Health sector experts said such "a studied silence" on the part of the authorities has stoked concerns among the people at the grassroots who questioned the very health policy of the present government.
Experts added that the cost of the repair of these x-ray machines would be huge and the government could procure new machines with the amount to be required for the repair.
However, the x-ray machines of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital remain operative, alone.
Sources said the patients of the city's Pangu Hospital are suffering most as its x-ray machines remain inoperative for a long.