Monday, 24 January, 2022

Incredible Development in Health Sector

Professor Dr. Md. Sharfuddin Ahmed

Incredible Development in Health Sector
Professor Dr. Md. Sharfuddin Ahmed

We have gone through enormous struggles for the last 50 long years. Bangladesh has moved from a Least Developed Country group to a developing country. The UN Committee on Economic and Social Development Policy has approved resolution to allow Bangladesh to graduate to the developing country grouping. The journey from a war-torn country to a successful nation was not smooth at all. This has been possible due to the courageous and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Because of her bold and dynamic development strategy, overall economic growth has brought Bangladesh on the path of rapid development through structural transformation and significant social progress.

The Sheikh Hasina government has maintained the continuity of development. The conquest of the sea and the conquest of space are visible to the whole nation. But there are many jobs that are hidden from the public eye, the benefits of which people are getting. People do not know the reason for this opportunity, nor do they try to know. One such area is the health sector.

The average life expectancy has risen to about 73 years. Maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rate decreased. The fact that this achievement is commendable with limited resources and huge population is acknowledged by all in the national and international arena. For this achievement, the health sector of Bangladesh has won 16 international awards and honours, including three UN awards. Of these, the MDG Award and the South-South Award are particularly noteworthy.

The formulation of the National Health Policy is a significant achievement of this government. The development of the pharmaceutical industry of Bangladesh can be proudly mentioned. Today, Bangladeshi medicines are being exported to 145 countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States.

Ensuring health care for this huge population is not an easy task at all. Many people compare our medical system with the medical system of foreign countries. They do not care about the population of our country and our financial capacity. Doctor-patient, doctor-nurse ratio does not matter. One of the steps taken by the present government in the health sector is to set up community clinics. After coming to power for the first time in 1996, this community clinic project was taken by the Sheikh Hasina government and about ten thousand clinics were set up. When the BNP government came to power in 2001, it stopped people-friendly humanitarian initiatives like community clinics only out of political anger. At present, there are about 18,500 community clinics in the country.

Not only that, extensive healthcare activities are being conducted across the country through community clinics. According to various online surveys and data from BBS, more than 90 per cent of community clinic clients are satisfied with services and facilities. In addition to increasing the number of beds in the upazila and district level hospitals, facilities have been increased. Various specialised institutes and hospitals, including Heart, Kidney, Liver, Cancer, Neuro, Eye, Burn, Ear-Nose-Throat, have been established. Nursing Institute has been established to meet the demand of required nurses. Work is underway to set up at least one medical college and hospital in each district.

Bangladesh has become one of the ideal countries for the implementation of child immunisation programme. Upazila hospitals have been upgraded to 50 beds. The number of beds in medical colleges and district hospitals has also been increased. The development of digital Bangladesh has great impact on the health sector. All hospitals have the internet connection. E-governance and E-tendering have been introduced in the Ministry of Health and the Department of Health. Government hospitals are being brought under automation. A ‘Vision Centre’ has been set up at the Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Eye Hospital in Gopalganj to launch online services.

Bangladesh has stunned the world with its success in preventing and eradicating the global epidemic– coronavirus. Although many countries of the world have not yet started vaccination campaign against corona infection, more than 11 crore people have already been vaccinated free of cost in Bangladesh. Under the direction of Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the worthy daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the production of Corona Vaccine will hopefully start in the country very soon, which will be exported abroad after meeting the demand of the country. The immunisation programme in Bangladesh was one of the reasons given for the progress made in the health sector in Bangladesh in the book titled "Good Health at Low Cost: Twenty Five Years On" published in 2010.

In the 50 years of victory, the country's healthcare sector has achieved commendable success worldwide. Unprecedented achievements have been made in the field of health infrastructure in fulfilling basic medical needs, prevention, control and eradication of infectious diseases, management and prevention of non-communicable diseases at a relatively low cost as compared to other countries of the world.

Bangladesh is already a middle-income country and the mother of humanity the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina is moving forward with the goal of becoming a developed and prosperous country by 2041. The Golden Bengal of the dream of the Father of the Nation is going to be established from a war-torn country, which is not an easy task at all and has only been possible under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

With the return of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to his homeland on 10 January 1972, a new journey of rebuilding war-torn Bangladesh began on 12 January under his leadership. At that time, our per capita income was only 100-150 USD. GDP was less than zero, that is, negative. There was nothing to say about the necessary infrastructure for development. There were ruins everywhere. Bangladesh's path started from standing on zero. At present our per capita income is 2554 USD. That is about 1.9 times the standard. Bangladesh's achievement is 75.4 against the standard 66 set in the Human Resources Index. The criteria for passing the Economic and Environmental Fragility Index were set at 32 or less. At that time Bangladesh's position in this case was 27. Needless to say, Bangladesh is far above the lowest index in all sectors. As an expert, not to mention the various aspects of the government's health management and some of its significant improvements. Bangladesh has worked tirelessly on healthcare since independence. The government is working to formulate a health policy to ensure basic health facilities for all people, especially the backward ones. The current state of family planning, including health, nutrition and reproductive health, is a key goal of the Health, Nutrition and Population Sector (HNP), especially for the economic emancipation of women, children and the elderly, and for sustainable improvement in physical, social, mental and spiritual well-being. National Health Policy, National Food and Nutrition Policy and National Population Policy are being implemented under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. In achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), remarkable achievements have been made in the field of health indicators such as reduction of infant mortality rate, immunisation of infants and mothers, elimination of Vitamin A deficiency, etc. As Bangladesh lags behind in other indicators, concerted efforts need to be made to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Improvement is visible in various economic indicators, including long term planning, achievement of MDG, preparation for implementation of SDGs, education, health, gender equality, massive development in agriculture, poverty reduction, life expectancy, export oriented industrialisation and special economic zones, garment industry, pharmaceutical industry, export growth etc. The increase is the result of the foresight and hard work of the Hon'ble Prime Minister. Besides, mega projects of the country including Padma Bridge, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Dhaka Metrorail etc. are also underway.

Let us all, regardless of party affiliation, unite to build a prosperous Bangladesh for the next generation, which will be the only way to fulfil the dream of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to build a golden Bangladesh.


The writer is the Vice-Chancellor, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University