Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Minister opening ‘watch cell’ to ensure quality health services in Bangladesh

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2019-01-14 00:05:41 BdST


New Health Minister Zahid Maleque will set up a ‘monitoring cell’ to keep a tab in the health services across Bangladesh.

Interacting with health journalists at his office on Sunday, he said with the cell he has plans to monitor all health facilities from the Upazila to the tertiary level.

He promised to bring transparency to purchases in the health sector.

Bangladesh Health Reporters’ Forum congratulated Maleque, who was the state minister for health in the last cabinet, with a bouquet led by its President Toufiq Maruf.

“I want to improve the quality of services and ensure transparency,” he said amid big concerns about service quality in Bangladesh.

Access is not an issue at this moment for the health sector. From Community Clinics, one for 6,000 people where basic services are provided, to tertiary-level hospitals, the Awami League government has expanded the facilities.

More than 15,500 doctors and 15,000 nurses have been appointed while about 11,000 new beds have been added to the government hospitals since 2009.

Some of the ongoing projects include expansion of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital to 5000-bed facility from 2,700, establishment of a 500-bed cancer hospital in Dhaka and expansion of 36 district hospitals. Recruitment of 10,000 more doctors is also under way.

But quality of care is not up to the mark, according to analysts.

The latest Bangladesh Maternal Mortality and Health Care Survey (BMMS) showed that the maternal deaths were 196 per 100,000 live births in 2016 when the survey was carried out.

Maternal mortality was 194 in 2010 when Bangladesh witnessed a steady decline from 322 in 2001.

But, in 2016, a total of 50 percent of births were attended by trained health professionals compared with only 27 percent in 2010.

It means that a substantial increase of some key indicators like increasing rate of facility deliveries, and skill birth attendants, the mortality rate has not dropped.

Analysts say it means the quality of care is not good. Women went to the hospital, but they received sub-standard treatment.

The new health minister said he would ensure that “doctors work properly at hospitals and no medical equipment are left unused”.

He said he would also try to streamline doctors’ promotion and posting.

“I have plans to provide doctors with cars and residential facilities so that they can stay comfortably at their workplace and provide services”.