Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Azam's 'extended' hospital stay raises brows

Former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Ghulam Azam, called the party's spiritual leader, is being given an extended stay in hospital in the name of medical check-up, though he could be medically fit, it is alleged.

His MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test, which was to be done two days ago, wasn't done even on Tuesday. What's more, the doctor concerned has not yet seen the test report of his X-ray, conducted on Monday, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, the medical board formed to treat Azam, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) hospital authorities and the jail officials are blaming each other for the 'delay'.

Azam, 89, is at present under treatment at the BSMMU hospital's prison cell. He is said to be suffering from age-related health complications.

The Jamaat leader was hospitalised following an appeal by his lawyers within hours after the war crimes tribunal turned down his bail appeal on Jan 11 and sent him to jail.

But doctors told journalists after a thorough examination that Azam is medically all right. A three-member medical board, headed by professor A B M Abdullah, was formed the following day to look into the issue.

While the board opined that Azam did not need hospitalisation, it, however, recommended shifting him to the orthopaedics department on Sunday after Azam complained of waist pain. The medical board members also suggested MRI and X-ray tests to be done on the Jamaat leader.


On Tuesday, BSMMU hospital director Brig Gen Mohammad Abdul Majid Bhuyian told, "Only the X-ray was done on Monday."

The report, he added, may be checked on Wednesday.

According to Bhuyian, the hospital informed the jail authorities that he would have to be taken to another hospital for the MRI since BSMMU hospital's own machine has gone kaput.

The medical board asked Azam's son, Brig Gen Abdullah Aman Azmi (Retd), to bring the old MRI report after Azmi informed the hospital that his father had recently undergone an MRI.

Asked whether a new MRI test is still required, Bhuyian on Tuesday said, "That can't be said without referring to the old report."

The old MRI report did not reach the hospital till Tuesday afternoon, when last checked.

"We will wait till tomorrow. A new MRI test will be done if the old report is not given (by Wednesday)," Bhuyian said.

Refusing to take responsibility for the 'delay', medical board chief Prof A B M Abdullah said, "I have only prescribed (the test). I have nothing more to do."


Raising another issue, BSSMU hospital director Bhuyian also said the jail authorities are responsible for ensuring security if the Jamaat leader has to be taken to another hospital for the MRI.

But Dhaka Central Jail jailor Mahbubul Islam said they were not informed about the issue till Tuesday afternoon. "I spoke with the official on duty at the hospital at noon. He told me there was no need to hold an MRI test," the jailor said.

The BSMMU hospital director, however, said no official on duty at the hospital had said anything to the jail authorities.

The jailor said the jail authorities would arrange for an MRI test outside BSMMU hospital if the hospital authorities tell them to do so.