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Access to quality health care

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28th-May-2018       
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Dr. Samir Kumar Saha  :
(From previous issue)
The gap between what the government has assessed  (sanctioned) as requirement for providing  healthcare services and the positions vacant clearly shows that Bangladesh has to make much  greater efforts in ensuring accessibility to essential health care services. Moreover, the  human health resources are heavily concentrated in  urban centers, depriving rural areas of much  needed human resources for health.
According to Bangladesh Health Watch report (BNHA  2011), 62% of medical doctors in Bangladesh are  working in the private sector.
Communicable diseases are a major cause of death and disability in Bangladesh. While the prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) has declined substantially, Bangladesh still ranks among the top ten countries in the world with the highest TB burden. The disease is found primarily among the poor and least educated populations. Pneumonia and water-borne diseases also are widely prevalent. Pneumonia and other infections are major causes of death among young children.
The toll of non-communicable diseases - chronic diseases, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and chronic respiratory diseases - is increasing in Bangladesh as the population becomes more urbanized. Cancer is the sixth leading cause of death in Bangladesh, accounting for more than 150,000 deaths annually.
Good governance is important in ensuring effective health care delivery, and that returns to investments in health are low, where governance issues are not addressed. Strengthening the health system through better management and organization and effective use of resources can improve health conditions and enhance the quality of health care delivery in Bangladesh. Furthermore, more research is needed on health system reforms.
Necessary steps should be taken to ensure the UHC by overcoming the challenges in the country's health sector.
To overcome the challenges in the health sector, a multi-sectoral holistic approach can be one of the important strategies. We have to take steps for utilizing traditional medicines such as Ayurveda and Unani for ensuring the UHC. Because, traditional medicines are cost-effective and easily available in our country.
Even western scientists are giving increasing attention to the traditional medicines. The ancient system has gained new dimension with standardized forms of formulations and adoption of modern manufacturing methods.   
As we have scarcity of manpower in the sector, we can use personnel from the traditional sector. It is time to recognize the natural system of medicine and utilize its workforce.
If necessary steps are taken for recognition and improvement of the traditional system of medicine, there would be development in our health sector. Sri Lanka, India and Child derived benefits by utilizing this system.
The WHD is a moment to think about the country's health issue. It is hoped that the day's spirit would motivate us to take necessary steps for ensuring the UHC by giving focus on the traditional system.

(The author is Executive Director of Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh)

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