After returning from England in the late 1960s, I started my professional career at the 'Sylhet Medical College and Hospital' which later on was renamed as 'Sylhet M A G Osmani Medical College and Hospital'. Over the course of the next ten years I noticed Sylhet had a high number of diabetic and cardiac patients, probably the highest in Bangladesh. Genetic disposition and lifestyle play key roles for both of these two diseases. I thought about establishing a nonprofit, self-sustaining diabetic hospital and a cardiac hospital in Sylhet to tackle these two life threatening diseases and to bring awareness among people in order to reduce the risks of both diabetes and heart disease.
On December 28th 1981, we had our first informal meeting regarding 'National Heart Foundaton, Sylhet' at Late Dr Shafiqur Rahman’s house in Dorga Gate. Retired District Judge Mr Abdul Hannan chaired the meeting. Three of us formed a core team and Dr. Shafiqur Rahman was assigned to become the coordinator of the Foundation. We decided to affiliate National Heart Foundation, Sylhet with National Heart Foundation Bangladesh founded by Prof. Brig (Retd) M A Malik and follow his model.As a continuation of the activity, on February 6th 1982 another formal meeting was organized at the 'Sylhet District Auditorium'. At this meeting we formed the full committee of 'National Heart Foundation, Sylhet'. The committee made me the president and Late Dr. Nurul Hossain Chanchal its general secretary. During its infancy stage National Heart Foundation, Sylhet started to provide limited outpatient services from the second floor of a pharmacy in Shubid Bazar. Later on this outpatient service was transferred to the 'Sylhet District Hospital' but as the patient volume started to increase, we decided to use a portion of the already completed 'Sylhet Diabetic Hospital' for National Heart Foundation, Sylhet'.
In 2005, the Government of Bangladesh allocated one acre land in Shahi Edgah for National Heart Foundation, Sylhet. Within a few months we built a small structure on the land and from the 10th of May 2005 from this built structure we started our outpatient service of National Heart Foundation Hospital, Sylhet. Convinced with our work, the 'Ministry of Social Welfare' donated Taka 20 crore to expand the hospital. With this contribution from the Government of Bangladesh, donations from the local Sylhetis, other non-resident Bangladeshis living in England and contributions from Pubali Bank, we completed the first phase of the six story, 100-bedded hospital in June of 2011. The hospital started to offer full outpatient service to patients from February 1st, 2012. Since 2014, the hospital started to offer limited inpatient service. Since its inception, 'National Heart Foundation, Sylhet' has covered a lot of ground in the last two decades. Sadly, some of my colleagues and friends who had worked tirelessly did not live long enough to see the fruit of their efforts. We fondly remember them and we thank everyone who is committed to making the dream come true.
Late Prof. Dr. M. A. Raquib
National Heart Foundation of Sylhet