Vol. 5 Num 558 Wed. December 21, 2005  
Star Chittagong

NMC last resort for poor patients

The Nuclear Medicine Centre (NMC) on the Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) campus in Chittagong is different in many ways.

The NMC provides free medicare services to the poor patients, sources said.

Besides, it levies very nominal charge for different examinations. A T-3 or T-4 test (Thyroid hormone) costs just Tk 100 against Tk 1,500 outside while the NMC doesn't take any fees for a 4-D ultrasonogram by Colour Dopplar whereas any private centre charges Tk 2,000 for the same, said NMC Director Dr Tamizuddin Ahmed.

The NMC offers the most modern method in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases by applying radioactive isotope. The method can diagnose or detect the existence or extent of diseases like brain tumour, liver abscesses, kidney, thyroid, blood circulation in heart, cancer, prostate and all other complicated cases.

Ramisha, aged seven, started feeling pain beneath her navel when she was watching TV the other night. Her parents took her to the CMCH in the next morning when it happened again with more intensity. The Resident Surgeon referred Ramisha to the NMC for an USG (ultra-sonogram) of her whole abdomen.

The NMC physicians conducted the USG of Ramisha in less than 15 minutes. The parents were seemed to be in tension. But when they came out of the Dr Tamizuddin's chamber with the report they were obviously most relieved couple.

The investigation said all vital organs -- liver, gall bladder, biliary trees, pancreas, spleen, urinary bladder, uterus and the kidneys -- of the child were normal and functioning well.

NMC charged only Tk 300 for USG, which is usually no less than Tk 800 in a private diagnostic centre.

But, the 35-year-old Abdul Mazid, a transport worker, is reverse and now cursing himself for the folly he committed to draw his own misfortune.

Mazid came to the NMC with suspected kidney problem in 2003. The doctors detected multiple calculi (stones) of variable sizes in his left kidney and prescribed him some medicines. The kidney was quite okay and the doctors ask him to follow their advice, which he ignored.

After developing some difficulty, Mazid came again to the NMC and get checked through renogram on July 20 last year. His left kidney still was functioning with uptake percentage 6.2. The investigation report, however, mentioned "gross parenchyma insufficiency" in his left kidney.

The NMC doctors this time asked him to take admission immediately at the CMCH for treatment of his left kidney. Accordingly, he got admitted but did the blunder by not paying heed to the doctors' advices.

He instead looked for 'divinely-gotten' medicine (banana) and consumed it for few days.

The result now is grave.

Mazid was back again at the NMC on December 17 referred by a private physician and the next day when he received the investigation report from NMC director, in presence of this correspondent, it was heartbreaking news for him -- his left kidney become non-functional. And the uptake percentage was zero.

The poor man was served free of cost when he came to the NMC being an admitted patient of the CMCH. But he had to pay Tk 500 only for renogram as private patient, which is Tk 3,000 or more in any private diagnostic centre or hospital in Dhaka.

"The renogram facility for Greater Chittagong is available here. One can know the state of his/her kidney functioning at a very reasonable price. Through whole body scan patient also can know whether there is any cancer virus or the virus spreads to other areas of the body. This early detection help greatly in rendering proper treatment to the diseases especially the complicated ones," the NMC doctors said.

The NMC has upgraded its services by procuring two new machines -- Bone Mineral Density (BMD) System and Thyroid Scanner. The BMD was installed two months ago.

"The BMD test is a modern measurement of the density of one's bone mineral and can be taken from various places of the body such as hip, spine, heel, forearm, finger or even whole body. It's the single most useful procedure in the diagnosis of osteoporosis and the evaluation of fracture risk and it allows the physician to determine whether one require treatment or not to his bone," the doctors said.

Dr Tamizuddin said non-cooperation of a section of physicians is a major obstacle to exploiting the NMC facilities to the fullest.

He urged the doctors to refer at least the poor patients to the centre.

The Centre for Nuclear Medicine and Ultrasound, Chittagong on the Chittagong Medical College and Hospital campus, top, and a patient getting thyroid scanning at the Nuclear Medicine Centre, bottom.. PHOTO: STAR