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     Volume 2 Issue 45| November 28, 2010 |


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Memorial of Osmani; Photo: Iqbal Siddiquee

Looking Back and the Journey Ahead

Iqbal Siddiquee

Located on the northeastern region, the Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College is a well-known institution in the country's medical education. The institution has a glorious history since the British regime.

The college stands on the western part of the old city. Sylhet is famous for its identities as 'the land of two leaves and a bud' and the holy land of the great Muslim saints, Hajrat Shahjalal (RA) and Hazrat Shahporan (RA). Also, revered and spiritual individuals, including Hason Raja, Radharaman, Arkum Shah and Shitalong Shah Fakir have their roots in this north-eastern region.

Sylhet has been in the forefront of education in undivided India. Documents and records show modern medicine was introduced to the community by the establishment of a institutional hospital in the heart of the Sylhet city in 1936, which was later upgraded and extended to cater for the British and Allied troops of Burma during World War I.

Principal Professor Osul Ahmed Chowdhury talked about the history of the medical school. The Sylhet Medical School started its journey in 1948 although a number of buildings were constructed for the purpose long ago. Things could not be implemented due to apathy of the then Assam government. They established the medical college in Gwahati while deciding for a school in Sylhet. But the decision got no support for implementation that time.

The then Civil Surgeon of Sylhet, Dr. Akhtar Uddin, started the medical school just months after the Partition in 1948. But as the medical schools were not included in the second 5-year plan, the medical school students went on agitation to press the demand. In 1962 they even pressed hunger strike, which compelled the government to fulfill the long-standing demand and necessity of the region.

Administrative building of Osmani Medical College,
Photo: Iqbal Siddiquee

With the upgrading as Medical College, the need for a larger space for the various departments as well as a quieter and congenial surrounding became obvious. As a result the present location in the western part of the town was selected for the purpose where the college was finally shifted in 1969 and the bed strength was increased to 500.

The third Principal of the college-Lt. Colonel AF Ziaur Rahman, Head of Surgery,Professor Shamsuddin Ahmed and Dr. Shyamol Kanti Lala embraced martyrdom on 9 April, 1971 while on duty. A memorial for them was built near the Sadar Hospital, where they were shot dead. A students' dormitory has also been named after Col. Zia.

Today the number of admitted students each year is around 178. Besides, about 5 to 8 foreign students also take admission in Osmani Medical College every year.

Separate hospitals specialising in tuberculosis and chest disease were established in 1953 while the Leprosy hospital was founded in 1962 and the Infectious Disease hospital in 1982. These three hospitals are affiliated to the college. A Nuclear Medicine Centre was also established within the college campus in 1981.

Since after the independence in 1971, there has been changes and progress in many sectors, especially accommodation of female students, establishment of coronary care unit, endoscopy unit, establishment of the departments of Microbiology, Bio-chemistry and Radiotherapy.

In 1986, the college was renamed 'Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College' after the late General MAG Osmani, the liberation war hero.

Since then, the college took steady strides forward and in time it was realised for its great role and for the greater honours for what it had already achieved during the years since its inception.

In January 1993, the college was recognised by the General Medical Council of UK for unlimited period. At present, a total of 169 teachers including the Principal are serving the college with a total number of 1095 students.

There are dormitories for the students as well as for the interns. These are Abu Sina Hostel, Hjrat Shahjalal (RA) Hostel, Dr. Shahid Shamsuddin hostel, Colonel Zia Hostel, Hajrat Shahporan (RA) Hostel, Dr. Dilruba Hostel and Bibi Ayesha (RA) Hostel.

In addition to nationally known organisations like Sandhani, Leo Club and Rotaract Club, students in the college also run the Medicine Club, Remedy Club, Debate Club, Angikar, Oitijjo etc for their literary and extra-curricular activities in addition to humanitarian services.

The college extends over an area of 191,977 square metres. However, the college and hospital and other affiliated institutions and hospitals have a total area of 260,355 square metres. These include the old campus, new campus, Model Family Planning Clinic, Nuclear Medicine Centre, Nurses Training Centre, other affiliated hospitals like Shahid Dr. Shamsuddin Hospital, Leprosy Hospital, Infectious Diseases Hospital, Hospital for Tuberculosis and TB Clinic, and Chhatak Upazila Health Complex.

The School of Medical Science of SUST conducts the undergraduate medical course in accordance with the curriculum laid down by Bangladesh Medical & Dental Council. On successful completion of 5 years of academic study, the university awards the MBBS degree. The School of medical science works through the committee of courses and studies and examination committee.

Professor Osul says, "We believe our students will continue to work as hard as ever to uphold this unique honour bestowed on us to enhance the prestige of this institution even further." The college started awarding postgraduate diplomas in July 1999 and postgraduate courses in different subjects in January 2003. "We started M. Phil courses in 2004," Chowdhury adds.

He elaborates that the college has some 33 foreign students namely from Nepal, Bhutan, Palestine, United States of America and the United Kingdom including 11 female students. They feel at home and are satisfied with the college atmosphere. The college turns 50 in 2012; plans for observing the Silver Jubilee are underway. Chowdhury, also an ex-student of the college, hopes for a grand and joyful reunion ahead.



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