One of the main reasons for lackluster services in our public hospitals is the shortage of doctors, nurses and other staffers. This has been a chronic woe of our healthcare system which due to death and infection of many physicians from Covid-19 in recent times seems to be worsening. This has put our healthcare system as well as medical education under serious strain and should be dealt with by the Health Ministry on a priority basis.
A report published in yesterday’s Daily Sun mentions that while most healthcare institutions do not have sufficient workforce in line with their existing organogram, eight medical colleges even do not have any organogram since their establishment. On the other hand, capacity of some hospitals has been increased without increasing their manpower. For example, DMCH has been turned into a 2600-bed hospital from a 1600-bed one, (although its director claims that it is currently serving over 4,200 patients), but it does not have manpower as per the existing old 1600-bed organogram.Shortage of professionals also plagues many other healthcare facilities, and the situation is particularly severe in community clinics in rural areas. Reportedly, the hospital authorities are sending proposals to the public administration ministry for recruitment of necessary manpower, but a bureaucratic tangle is causing the delay in new recruitment.
According to World Health Organization, Bangladesh suffers from shortage of health workers. There are an estimated 3.05 physicians and 1.07 nurses per 10,000 population. Given this poor doctor-patient ratio, recruitment of more doctors is an absolute necessity. People in many rural areas are being deprived of proper treatment mainly because of the shortage of doctors. Moreover, when they fall sick, they usually turn to quacks or other unprofessional practitioners for treatment, which do them more harm than good. In a word people are being deprived of due services from the public hospitals. The authorities should bridge the gap, sooner rather than later.
However, recruiting doctors is not enough. Doctors’ absenteeism is a serious problem, especially in rural health clinics because of their tendency to stay in cities. The government must ensure physical presence of doctors at their respective workplaces across the country including in remote areas to achieve the desired improvement in this sector.