The UN has recognized Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s healthcare model, the Community Clinic-based approach. A resolution titled ‘Community-based Primary Health Care’ was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly, acknowledging this initiative for achieving Universal Health Services.
The state of public health hinges on the effectiveness of the healthcare service infrastructure. This infrastructure encompasses all services related to diagnosing and treating illnesses or advancing, sustaining, and reinstating health. Over the past few years, Bangladesh has witnessed significant advancements in healthcare, leading to improved health conditions among its population. In order to uphold the standard of healthcare services, the government of Bangladesh has made significant strides in enhancing the infrastructure of the health sector, resulting in noteworthy accomplishments.
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Numerous medical facilities in rural or semi-urban regions now collaborate with local women to promote awareness on maternal health, nutrition, family planning, and prenatal maternal healthcare. The healthcare service sector’s expansion has played a pivotal role, contributing to the increase in average life expectancy from 69.22 years in 2009 to the current 72 years. This positive trend is mirrored by declines in infant and maternal mortality rates, increased accessibility to healthcare and education, and notable progress across various social indicators.
Bangladesh’s Healthcare System Sees Progress Amid Some Challenges
In recent years, Bangladesh has made strides in enhancing healthcare infrastructure and tackling initial obstacles to delivering quality healthcare under the current government. As of 2012, the country proudly operated 12,527 community clinics, a number indicative of significant improvement (MOHFW, 2013). The expansion extends to upazila hospitals, with 494 operational by 2015, boasting a collective bed capacity of 17,686 and contributing to a total of 15,000 health facilities.
However, the key challenge faced by Bangladesh’s healthcare sector revolves around insufficient human resources. Despite having approximately 60,000 doctors, the country grapples with a shortage of about 140,000 nurses. The government is actively working to address this shortage and strengthen the healthcare workforce.
The Transformative Growth of Health Care Facilities in Bangladesh
With an expanded budget in FY23, the health sector is now implementing 31 operational plans under the Fourth Health, Population, and Nutrition Sector Programme (HPNSP), ensuring healthcare services are accessible nationwide. The Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) has successfully increased coverage to 94 percent, contributing to enhanced healthcare outcomes as well.
A network of 14,384 community clinics has been established to efficiently bring healthcare services to rural populations, delivering integrated care for mothers, newborns, and sick children (IMCI), reproductive health and family planning services, treatment of common injuries, and nutrition services, among other essential offerings. Notably, approximately 4,000 community clinics nationwide specialize in providing normal delivery services. Community clinics also offer a diverse array of over 30 medications, despite community healthcare providers having undergone only a brief 3-month training period.
The United Nations has acknowledged the healthcare approach implemented by Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, known as the Community Clinic-based model. The UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution titled ‘Community-based Primary Health Care: A Participatory and Inclusive Approach to Achieving Universal Health Services’ in recognition of this initiative.
In each of the 8 country divisions, 100-bed cancer hospitals have been set up, and the diagnostic imaging systems in the medical college hospitals of these divisions have been upgraded. Additionally, the current count of registered nurses stands at 85,429. The collaborative effort between Bangabandhu Medical University and the Korean government has resulted in the inauguration of a cutting-edge, 750-bed super-specialized hospital, now operational and delivering top-notch healthcare services.
The trajectory of public health in Bangladesh has undergone a remarkable transformation, with a journey from challenges to triumphs. The metamorphosis of healthcare infrastructure, from early struggles characterized by disparities and shortages, to the current landscape marked by expanded services and strategic initiatives, exemplifies the nation’s commitment to the well-being of its citizens.
As the nation moves forward, the collaborative spirit between institutions and international partners, sets a precedent for continued growth and innovation in healthcare. The journey from struggle to success in Bangladesh’s healthcare story not only reflects resilience but also serves as an inspiration for nations striving to enhance the health and well-being of their populations.