Monday, October 11, 2010

qotd: Lessons from Bangladesh

World Health Organization
Health System in Bangladesh
(Accessed October 11, 2010)

Bangladesh has made significant progress in recent times in many of its social development indicators particularly in health. This country has made important gains in providing primary health care since the Alma Ata Declaration in 1978. All health indicators show steady gains and the health status of the population has improved. Infant, maternal and under-five mortality rates have all decreased over the last decades, with a marked increase in life expectancy at birth.

Like most transitional societies, a wide range of therapeutic choices are available in Bangladesh, ranging from self care to traditional and western medicine. The public sector is largely used for in-patient and preventive care while the private sector is used mainly for outpatient curative care.

The Public Sector

The primary care in the public sector is organized around the Upazila Health Complex (UHC) at sub-district level which works as a health-care hub. These Units have both in- and out-patient services and care facilities. Most commonly, they have in-patient care support with 31 beds, while some UHC have over 50 beds. Many UHC Units have a package service called "comprehensive emergency obstetric care services" (EOC) available, with an expert gynaecologist, an anaesthetist and skilled support nurses on duty round-the-clock, and basic laboratory facilities. At a lower tier, the Union Health and Family Welfare Centre (UHFWC) are operational, constituted with two or three sub centers at the lowest administrative level, and a network of field-based functionaries. The public sector field-level personnel are comprised of Health Assistants (HAs) in each union who supposedly make home visits every two months for preventive healthcare services, and Family Welfare Assistants (FWAs) who supply condoms and contraceptives pills during home visits. Recently some of the female HAs and FWAs have been trained as birth attendants (skilled birth attendants – SBAs), to provide skilled services within a household setting.

The Private Sector

In the private sector, there are traditional healers (Kabiraj, totka, and faith healers like pir / fakirs), homeopathic practitioners, village doctors (rural medical practitioners RMPs/ Palli Chikitsoks-PCs), community health workers (CHWs) and finally, retail drugstores that sell allopathic medicine on demand. In addition to dispensing medicine, sellers at these mostly unlicensed and unregulated retail outlets also diagnose and treat illnesses despite having no formal professional training.


The New Nation - Bangladesh's Independent News Source
October 10, 2010
Physician's obligations to patients
By Dr. Delwar Hossain

Doctors of medical background are usually brilliant and talented groups of people of our country. They are the cream of the society and pride of this country.

High moral values and strict ethical practice should be observed in the physicians simply because they are considered next to Allah by the sick people. In true sense they are the deputy of almighty Allah in this world. Unfortunately with the few exceptions they are indulged in immoral activities and unethical practices of all sorts. I think it is not too late to rectify ourselves now. 

Malpractices of all sorts have engulfed the physicians of all categories and money appears as the single most important driving factor. Money is an important factor but should not be the only factor for our profession.

Cesarean operation is a life saving method for mother and baby. It was invented only for selective and complicated labor. It is still used as such in the West. But quite different picture is seen in our country. When this facility was first available in our country several decades ago hardly 10% labor was done by it. It was used only in cases of its valid indications. But now around 50% (varies 40% to 95%) labors are done by it across the country and in majority cases injudiciously. It becomes the easiest method of earning a lot of money within shortest possible time! If we become an exploiter instead of a perfect technical person how can we be able to protect the interest of a patient?

Cases of gross negligence on the part of physicians are being reported in paper now and then. These are nothing but the tip of the ice-burg only. One of my known persons decided to deliver their baby by Cesarean section. He managed to get the best anesthesiologist and gynecologist. Patient started muscle twitching on the operation table during later part of operation. On inquiry it was found that Oxygen cylinder ran out of oxygen! And the anesthetist was found upstairs in computer game! By this time patient incurred irreparable brain damage. Then she was transferred to Dhaka to Singapore and attended by both the British and the American specialists. But did not get any benefit. Now she is deeply unconscious, has been bed-ridden for last one and a half decades, on life saving measures. She and her family life had gone to hell.

Comment:  Can a health care system in a transitional society such as Bangladesh provide lessons for a modern industrialized nation like the United States? Well, yes. See how many lessons you can find here.

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