By Abu Taher
COX’S BAZAR, Sept 25, 2021 (BSS) – Once getting consultations from expert physicians was beyond the imagination of the people of Badarkhali, a remote union in Cox's Bazar's Chakaria upazila, where healthcare facilities are very insufficient.
But rapid progress and expansion of information and communication technology (ICT) through the implementation of “Digital Bangladesh” has translated the dreams of receiving treatment from specialist physicians into reality as the people in this remote area are now getting modern telemedicine services. The materialization of Digital Bangladesh has reached advanced medicare facilities in the rural area.
Comments of Ahmedur Rahman, a farmer who resides at Block No. 3 under Badarkhali union, portrayed the scenario of development in the locality in the field of health sector.
“I along with my four other family members including wife, son and daughter tested positive for coronavirus. It was beyond our affordability to receive treatment by going outside of my upazila or district. Then a neighbor suggested me calling at '333', the national helpline," he said.
Rahman continued: "Accordingly, I did that and stayed at home after consulting with specialist physicians. Getting treatment through telemedicine service, all of our family recovered from illness."
He said he never even dreamed that he could get treatment from specialist physicians sitting at home. “We received the facilities during our dire needs. I'm praying for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for transforming the dream into reality,” Rahman said.
Noor Habib Taslim, a social worker of Badarkhali, said many residents of the union received telemedicine services during the severe crisis period of coronavirus pandemic and got consultations from expert physicians.
The epoch-making initiative of the government has brought scopes for rural people to receive treatment staying at home, he said.
The Digital Bangladesh vision of the government has been facilitating people in multifaceted ways as it has made reaching government services to the people's doorsteps in an easier, time-saving and cost-effective way.
Hefaj Morshed, a resident of Dulahazra union under Chakaria upazila, had worked at a private organization in Dhaka but lost his job during the corona virus pandemic. Then he returned home.
Under this circumstance, Digital Bangladesh initiative offered a ray of hope for Morshed as he started doing e-commerce staying at home. He initiated his business with products like "shutki" (dried fish), pickles, vegetables and so on. Now he is self-reliant.
“I got frustrated after losing the job. I embarked on the business through online at the advice of a friend with products like dried fish and pickles. Now I'm also selling vegetables as well at different places including Dhaka and Chattogram. I also supplied my products in Prime Minister’s Office,” Morshed said.
Witnessing his success, many youths have also engaged themselves in e-commerce, he added.
Ershadul Haque, a young entrepreneur of a Union Digital Centre in Chakaria upazila, began his initiative of imparting training to youths on online marketing, freelancing, outsourcing and others.
Receiving training from the digital centre, over 100 youths have become successful in different fields. They are earning Taka 50,000 to 80,000 in every month through outsourcing and freelancing.
The aspire to innovate (a2i) programme under Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division has been providing different digital services to make life easier at marginal level as people in remote areas are now receiving services sitting at home.
Every day over 200 people take different digital services from Ershadul Haque’s digital centre.
He said his centre is providing services relating to e-banking, e-mutation, filling up forms for passport, birth registration and national identity (NID) card, online registration for receiving widow and old-age allowance, application for recruitment, paying fees and tax, registration for different examinations and so on.
Sadia Kawser Khanam, who hails from remote Kakara union under Chakaria upazila, is an entrepreneur of Digital Centre in the union.
The young woman entrepreneur received national award for providing online services to rural people through the Digital Centre.
“Villagers whether they are educated or not had to go to thana or district headquarters for receiving different services like widow and old-age allowances and other government and private services. But now things have changed as people are getting those services staying at home or from Union Digital Centre,” Sadia said.
She said the lifestyle of rural people is now getting changed gradually as they are becoming habituated with modern and digital facilities and technologies.
“I never dreamed that I could earn Taka 70,000 to 80,000 staying at the remote village,” she said.
Sadia urged unemployed educated youths to build themselves as entrepreneurs without only racing for government or non-government jobs.
Youths can get training facilities from the largest e-education platform in Bangla language 'Muktopaath', an initiative of a2i, she said.
The chairman of Paschim Baro Bheula union under Chakaria upazila, Sirajul Islam Chowdhury, said digital services are facilitating rural poor people in various ways.
Now they don’t have to face any hassle in receiving widow or old-age allowances as they are now getting the allowances sitting at home through mobile phones or going to Union Digital Centre, he added.
Assistant Commissioner (Land) of Chakaria upazila Md Tanvir Hossain said cent percent works of e-mutation are being conducted at Digital Centre as rural people now can apply for mutation staying at home or going to the centre in their locality.
e-mutation is being done within maximum one month or lesser time after scrutinizing the documents submitted by the people, he said.
Tanvir said if any discrepancy is found in their documents, service-seekers are called to face an interview and thus the mutation work is being done.
e-mutation of around 14,000 service-seekers has been done in the upazila within a year, he said.
Chakaria Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Syed Shamsul Tabrij said Prime Minister’s special initiative Digital Bangladesh has surpassed its anticipated targets as it has achieved unprecedented success in changing the standard of life of the people.
Thanks to different initiatives of a2i, he said, rural people are now getting different modern facilities at their doorsteps, while youths are becoming self-reliant as Digital Bangladesh vision created opportunities for self-employment.
The UNO said works at government offices have been accelerated because of the Digital Bangladesh initiative, while public sufferings in receiving government services have lessened to a great extent and loopholes for realizing of money illegally from service-recipients have also been stopped.
Tabrij said they put emphasis on applying e-Nothi (electronic file) for office management instead of traditional file management at all offices in the upazila during the pandemic situation, and as a result the lockdown, triggered by corona virus-crisis, could not hamper official works. People got quality services through online even during the crisis, he said.
The UNO said many people were provided with relief goods during disaster period after receiving information from national helpline 333.
It has been possible to provide telemedicine services along with medicines to patients in remote areas during the crisis and thus Digital Bangladesh approach has been playing an important role in facing corona virus, he said.
Over 200 women entrepreneurs have been created due to Digital Bangladesh initiative in the upazila and many of them have been successful in their respective fields, the UNO said.