Bangladesh’s unprecedented success in health sector

Bangladesh’s unprecedented success in health sector

Md. Abdullah Al

Published: 16:03 18 October 2021   Updated: 16:04 18 October 2021

File Photo

File Photo

The health systems of many large countries in the world have collapsed due to the effects of the coronavirus, however, Bangladesh’s health sector has achieved commendable success worldwide.

Unprecedented achievements – completion of basic medical services at a lower cost than other countries in the world, prevention, control and eradication of infectious diseases, massive initiatives in management and prevention of non-communicable diseases, nutrition development, health indicators in the field of health infrastructure – have taken the country far ahead.

Bangladesh has stunned the world with its success in tackling the deadly COVID deaths. Bangladesh has introduced the COVID vaccines’ rollout campaign where many countries in the world yet started the vaccine campaign. Around 60 million people in Bangladesh have already been vaccinated. 

The present government has set up 13,779 community clinics across the country for the rural poor and marginalized people where thousands of people are getting various basic health services at their doorsteps every day.

According to a health bulletin published by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), 750 million people have availed of services from the clinics since its inception and 80 percent of them are satisfied with the services. 

Regular inoculation programs against tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, maternal and neonatal tetanus, hepatitis-B, Haemophilus Influenzae-B, pneumococcal pneumonia, poliomyelitis, measles and rubella are being conducted in the country. The vaccines are provided free of cost across the country through the EPI program. In 1985, the vaccination rate was only two percent, but now it is more than 98 percent.

As a result of this program, it is possible to reduce maternal and child mortality rates in the country as well as prevent disability. The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) on September 23 awarded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina the “Vaccine Hero” award for Bangladesh’s success in the vaccination program.

The three-time Sheikh Hasina’s government has expanded health infrastructure from the capital Dhaka to grassroots level villages. Now there are medical college hospitals in many districts of the country. General clinics, diagnostic centers, high-quality medium, tertiary and specialized modern health facilities have also been set up at the private level in a conducive environment. Numerous patients are being treated in these hospitals every day with world-class type surgeries.

According to health experts, the last few years have seen “unimaginable success” in primary healthcare with various indicators in the health sector (average life expectancy, vaccination rate, prevention of infant and maternal mortality).

They say that community clinics are working like “magic” to bring healthcare to the doorsteps of the people at the grassroots level of the country. 

The country has a large number of doctors and teachers from public and private medical and dental colleges and specialized education and medical universities - who are making outstanding contributions to the health sector. 

The health experts also say that medicines were imported from abroad at one time. Currently, 98 percent of medicines are manufactured in the country. However, to make the health sector of the country people-friendly, it is necessary to pay attention to the issue of proportional rate in creating the required number of manpower including doctors, nurses and technologists. 

They also said that the state’s cost would be reduced and the general public would get treatment at a lower cost if attention was paid to the utility of purchasing equipment in government hospitals.

Professor Dr. Anisur Rahman Anzum, chief at Department of Ophthalmology of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), told Daily Bangladesh that a World Bank report titled “Expectations for the 21st Century” states that Bangladesh tops the list in terms of malnutrition and child mortality. Meanwhile, Bangladesh ranks 88th in the latest rankings released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the quality of health care in different countries of the world. Among the SAARC countries, only Sri Lanka is above Bangladesh with the 76th position. Besides, India ranks 112th, Pakistan 122nd, Bhutan 124th, Maldives 147th, Nepal ranks 150th and Afghanistan is at the bottom with 173rd position. “According to this ranking, the health system of Bangladesh appears to be better than India,” he also said.

He said Bangladesh has achieved significant success in reducing maternal and child mortality and received recognition. Bangladesh has earned the prestigious recognition of the WHO for its success in eradicating maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) infections. 

“Just a decade ago, Bangladesh had the second-highest infant mortality rate among the six countries in Southeast Asia. However, the maternal mortality rate in 2015 has decreased by 69 percent - which is the highest progress among these 6 countries. During this, the under-five mortality rate has dropped from 88 per thousand to 38, and the neonatal mortality rate from 42 to 23.” 

Dr. Anisur added that 23 percent of newborns received the help of a trained midwife at birth in 2007, but now it is 42 percent. Bangladesh has also had success in reducing maternal mortality. The maternal mortality rate was 399 per one lakh in 1990 and it has come down to 176 in 2015. 

Bangladesh is in a much better position considering the average life expectancy, Dr. Anisur Rahman Anzum said, mentioning that all of these have been made possible by the government’s commitment to implement the slogan “Health for All.”

Health Minister Zahid Maleque told Daily Bangladesh that people’s courage has increased as the quality of the healthcare sector has increased. No one did not get out during the COVID period. Everyone was in the country. Covid, non-Covid have been treated. From there, it is understandable that the condition of the hospital is good.

About the vaccine, the minister said a total of 160 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been ordered so far. “We are not just bringing vaccines, the Prime Minister has instructed - to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines in the country as soon as possible. We are working towards that goal. Vaccines will be manufactured in the country very soon,” he said. 

Health Minister said about 60 million vaccines have already been rolled out. The Prime Minister has asked for more vaccines. We will get 50 million vaccines from COVAX. In all, there are orders for 160 million vaccines. The vaccine has been taken to the villages.

Highlighting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s international award for the development of healthcare, the Health Minister said, “Compared to Europe and the United States, the death rate from coronavirus in Bangladesh is lower. In that comparison, we can understand how our healthcare sector has developed.”