Public money but health facilities are first for VIPs not acceptable

27 June 2020


PUBLIC health experts reiterated that the country was failing to provide quality healthcare to all because of deep-rooted corruption and lack of accountability, and called for an overhaul of the healthcare sector. 70 per cent of the health care expenditure is out-of-pocket and the extremely high expenses have been pushing people into poverty while hundreds of thousands of well-off people are travelling abroad for treatment because they don't trust the healthcare here. The shortcoming of the sector was known to all, but the pandemic has made it more visible.
It is pathetic to see patients are being denied admission or consultation at hospitals. Undeniably, we need a significant healthcare reform for all as the Constitution endorsed healthcare facility as the duty of the state. It was frustrating that repeated calls for increasing the number of daily tests fell on deaf ears. One of the major factors driving the high out-of-pocket spending was a lack of health insurance schemes. Other causes of high healthcare costs include numerous diagnostic tests and drug companies' paying doctors to prescribe their expensive but not-so-effective products. Actions should be taken against those who benefit from drug companies. This year, Tk 29,000 crore was allocated for the health sector, about only 2 per cent of the GDP, while the World Health Organisation recommends it to be 5 per cent of the GDP. There is also a crisis of health infrastructure in urban areas, especially for primary healthcare. If there were ward-level health facilities, people with Covid-19 would not have to rush to the tertiary hospitals.
In the years, the social safety net was prioritised, but good governance was a major overlooked issue. The government should not wait for herd immunity as it takes a high toll. As an immediate measure, at least one lakh tests everyday and isolation and treatment of those found infected is a dire necessity. There is no priority higher than protecting human life, but the government is sticking to high-cost infrastructures that open windows for corruption to many instead of saving precious human life.
The public officials must serve the public first to earn special facilities. The fact that the people will not get treatment but VIPs will enjoy the best of treatment is not acceptable. The secretaries and MPs should not be treated as VIPs. The number of VIPs must be restricted to a very limited group. The VIPs feel they are the privileged class and so feel themselves consequently much above the others.

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