In memory of a medicine man

M.A. Jabbar :
For the above title of my article, the respected readers perhaps may guess of whom I am going to write about. This is about reverened national professor of the soil Dr Nurul Islam who left us one year back, who in his life time could reach peak of success by his excellent talents, perseverance and hard struggle throughout his life and have dimensional and singnificant countribution for the country and its people and will be remembered by all in the days to come. The great man of the medical field had been founder and director of the Insititute of Postgraduate Medicine Research (IPGMR) now Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) and was named as its founding father for making the institution worth international repute. He was the personal physician of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was crowned with a lot of laurels viz. Independence Day Award, Bangla Academy Award, B.C.Roy award for medical science, WHO commemorative awards and gold medial for tobacco control. The first demise anniversary of national professor Dr Nurul Islam is on 24 January 2014.
Born on 01 April 1928 at the village of Chandanaish in Chittagong he was a meritorious student from the school life. After completion of his secondary education from Gasbaria N.G.M. High School, Chandanaish, Chittagong in 1943 he completed I.Sc. from Calcutta Islamia Science College and thereafter completed medical graduation from Calcutta Medical College. Thereafter he completed MRCP in 1954 with the government scholarship and completed TDD in 1955 from Wales Univesity, London. Backed home he joined Mitford Hospital and then Dhaka Medical College as associate professor in 1958 and Chittagong Medical College as professor in 1962. He got Nuffield scholarship in 1963 and worked as visiting professor in London and returned home in 1964. He joined PG institute as Joint Director in 1965 and became director of the Institute in 1966 and had been there as director and professor of medicine for 24 years. He was not only a renowned physicians but also an organizer and social reformer as well. He founded Islamic Medical Mission, Janasheba Foundation, ADHUNIK and closely associated with Hamdard Bangladesh and became the Chairman of the organization.
The visionary professor contributed singnificantly for the growth and development of postgraduate medical education in the country. Today we are proud of many experts in various disciplines in the field of medical science in our country. It is known to all that his prescription was for essential and limited number of medicines and sometime no medicine for the patients.
I had the unique opportunity to work with him at the stage of compilation of the USTC project, its establishement and approval by the government to till his death. He had to pass through a very difficult time during the early stage of the USTC. He could solve problem with determination. The next generation can learn a lot from his life.
He founded ‘ADHUNIK’- country’s first anti-tobacco organization and waged social campaign against smoking. The movement gained momentum and subsequently many other anti-tobacco organizations emerged in the country. The role of anti-tobacco movement in Bangladesh has been recognized by the WHO.
He was a man of strong determination. National professor M.R.Khan in a condolence meeting at BSMMU after his death told that Professor Islam was a man of so strong determination that once his students of postgraduate medical education started movement to defer examination. Professor Islam told with strong determination that you could change the post of director but not the schedule of examination. At last the examination was held in time.
Working with him for more than two decades we could see that he would get pleasure devoting himself in work. His saying was that a person getting pleasure in work, could never be tired with work. In true words national professor Dr Nurul Islam’s love and respect for work was reflected through his various socio-welfare oriented activities.
We know him as a pioneer of modern medicine and had great love and respect for all the systems of medicine. Apart from allopathy, he worked for unani-ayurved, homeopath and other natural healings as well. He was associated with Hamdard Bangladesh for long and had been the Chairman till his death. It may be mentioned that I got the unique opportunity of primary responsibility of preparing the Hamdard University project profile which I did in an appropriate manner in time with the guidance of National Professor Dr Nurul Islam. Prof. Islam also contributed significantly for the growth and development of family medicine in Bangladesh and FMD was made a constitutent organization of the USTC.
Bangladesh National Drug Policy 1982 under his able leadership was acclaimed at home and abroad. The national durg policy contributed towards expansion of local pharmaceutical industry thereby import of unnecessary medicines was stopped and meeting local demand the drug policy helped export of medicines from the country and thus created opportunity for earning of foreign currency for the country. Moreover employment opportunity also generated due to expansion of local pharmaceutical industry.
He will remain alive for his innumerable books and publications to mention some of which are: medical diagnosis & treatment, something about health, history of IPGMR, In the stream of life, some thoughts, Tobacco:questions & answers, Bangabandhu-in the eye of his personal physicians, tobacco control in Bangladesh:the man behind(compiled by jabbar&iftekhar).He received recognition for his outstanding contribution for the society notably among which include:President Gold Medal(1963),
Sitara-e-Imtiaz(SI, 1970), Gold Medal by Chittagong Association for Meritorious Service(1982), Gold Medal Bangladesh Academy of Sciences (1982), Rangadhanu Academy Award(1986), Dayemi Award for Religious and Social work(1986), Fazlul Haq Memorial Award(1987), National Professor of Bangladesh (1087), WHO Award for Tobacco Control 190 & 1992), Golden Grahak Sewa Award Gujrat State, India(1993), Ibn Sina Medal(1994),Gandhi Foundation Awrd, oslo, Norway(1995), D.Sc(Ansted University), Malaysia & Srilanka (1995 & 1998), Gold Medal RCP, Edinburgh(1999), Social Service Award, Ministry of Social Welfare, GOB(2000),Bangladesh Nutrition Society Award(2002), Dr B.C. Roy Award , India(2001), WHO Director General’s Award (2005), Prime Minister’s Science Writer’s Award (2005)
His love and respect for his mother had been a bright example for the future generation. He was very popular among the mass people which would reflected from the fact that had he been sick, people of all religions would pray in the mosque, temple, pagoda, church for his early recovery.
Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid last respects at the coffin of national professor Dr Nurul Islam and stood silence for few moments. Later she prayed for salvation of the national professor’s soul. The cabinet adopted resolution expressing deep condolence at the demise of eminent doctor and social worker national professor dr Nurul Islam. Recalling his contribution to the nation, the resolution said, prof. Nurul Islam was the pioneer of the expansion of medical studies in Bangladesh and tireless social worker and it is an irreparable loss for the nation.  
He is no longer alive, but his contribution towards formulating national drug policy, social movement against tobacco and smoking, expansion of postgraduate medial education will be remembered by the nation forever. He was not only an expert administrator but also a social reformer, medical scientist, renowned physician and teacher. He will be remembered among the future generation for his discipline and punctuality in professional life. May Allah grant eternal peace of the departed soul of national professor Dr Nurul Islam.
(The writer is Executive Secretary of ADHUNIK and had been a close associate of National Professor Dr Nurul Islam for more than two decades.)