Speakers at a policy dialogue on Saturday laid emphasis on equal distribution of the government’s health workforce throughout the country to ensure universal health coverage.
They stressed the importance of immediate coordinated efforts among multiple stakeholders in order to eliminate the existing setbacks and strengthen present health system.They came up with the remarks at the fourth phase of Health Policy Dialogue.
International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) arranged the event at CIRDAP auditorium in the capital. Health professionals, policymakers, medical practitioners and representatives from government, nongovernment organisations (NGOs) and media were present on the occasion.
The health policy dialogue is an initiative of the icddr,b’s ‘Strengthening Health, Applying Research Evidence (SHARE)’ project. It was initiated in September 2017, said a press release.
The dialogue titled ‘Equitable Distribution of Medical Doctors for Strengthening Universal Health Coverage (UHC)’ sought practical solutions to overcome the challenges and achieve universal health coverage.
The dialogue said Bangladesh is considered one of the countries with severe shortage and geographically improper distribution of health workforce while the country is challenged by production, deployment, availability and retention of quality health workforce.
In his keynote presentation, Dr. Iqbal Anwar, Scientist and Project Coordinator, SHARE Project of Universal Health Coverage Programme at icddr,b, highlighted the present situation of health workforce distribution in Bangladesh.He has presented several setbacks of the existing systems that include overly-centralised health system, weak governance and regulatory framework, weak management and institutional capacity in the ministry of health and family welfare, inequitable allocation of doctors, high rate of vacancy at the Upazila level, high number of deputation posting, inadequate amenities and lack of proper educational facilities for children of the health professionals posted in the rural areas.
Dr Anwar has also presented relevant data from DGHS 2019, which shows that 20.4 percent vacancy against sanctioned positions of doctors that aggravates the situation of shortage of medical doctors.
Furthermore, a total of 4,749 doctors are posted on attachment (OSD) in Dhaka against the sanctioned OSD post of 783, which have resulted in a severe shortage of doctors in district level and below.
Dr. Mushtuq Husain from Co-ordination and Support Centre of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) welcomed the participants while Professor Robayet Ferdous, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Dhaka, moderated the event.
Speaking as the chief guest, Prof. Dr Abul Kalam Azad, Director General of the DGHS, also laid stress on the coordinated approach.
He said, “We have made some significant progresses. Now we have data to identify gaps in the distribution of health workforce. However, we need better coordination among stakeholders and united approach to address the shortcomings in this sector.”
Dr. M. A. Faiz, Member of Health Policy Dialogue and ex-Director General of DGHSFW, said, “The health policy dialogue has captured the recommendations discussed and will share with relevant authorities and policymakers to bring a positive change in the existing health system of the country.”
Strengthening Health, Applying Research Evidence (SHARE) project is supported by the European Union (EU). Along with EU, the event was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).