From the Editor-in-Chief: The health issue . . .

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, October 27th, 2016
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The healthcare sector in Bangladesh has long been a matter of discussion. There is no denying that we have achieved remarkable success in various indexes of healthcare services, keeping pace with the overall development taking place in every other sector. The number of medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies has increased significantly and we may take pride in the fact that some of these institutions provide world-class healthcare facilities. We have, by and large, attained self-sufficiency in medicine production. Several companies even export pharmaceutical products to various countries all over the world. But this does not show the real picture of the entire healthcare scene in the country. In fact, if we take a close look at the whole gamut of the country’s healthcare situation, both in private and public sectors, a rather abysmal picture will unfurl before us.

 

Along with a few quality institutions, the bulk of which are in the capital, there has been a mushroom growth of private clinics and diagnostic centres across the country. Many of these hospitals and diagnostic centres have been established without taking approval from the appropriate state authorities and the quality of healthcare they provide is very much substandard. What they think about only is making money by exploiting the helpless patients. Hospitals in the public sector, which are the only option for the majority poor people of the country since they cannot afford the high expenses of private hospitals, too do not often provide the desired services. A large-scale involvement of the doctors of the public hospitals with private clinics and personal practice place a big question mark over their professionalism and professional ethics. Besides, there is an unabated presence of non-hospital staff and agents of private hospitals in the public hospitals, which make the healthcare situation there rather deplorable.

 

It is clear the entire healthcare sector in the country is in a quandary and public health is in peril. The recent reports of a baby being declared dead in Faridpur, who later was found to be alive, and the death of a person after being treated with unauthorised medicine by a non-hospital staff in Dhaka Medical College Hospital denote the whole situation. In short, a serious deterioration of services offered by medical institutions across the country is taking place steadily. People’s rights to basic healthcare services are being violated regularly as if there is none to look into the matter and make the responsible institutions, doctors or staff accountable for their actions, or lack of thereof. Although our law enforcement agencies make occasional drives against illegal hospitals, diagnostic centres and pharmaceutical businesses, due to lack of constant and foolproof vigil they fail to usher in the desired outcome.

 

What is going on in our healthcare services, both in public and private sectors, is in no way pleasing. We must understand that human lives are not cheap, that they are more precious than anything else. Therefore, the state must come down hard on those who are playing with human lives for personal gains by neglecting their duties.

 

We cannot let the most precious public health sector go into bad hands irretrievably.

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