• Wednesday, Apr 21, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:40 am

Patient, doctors, nurses ratio: Bangladesh lags far behind its neighbours

  • Published at 12:36 am July 21st, 2019
Hospitals-Syed Zakir Hossain-Dhaka Tribune
File photo shows doctors and medical assistants treating patients in a hospital Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

The country has only 6 doctors, nurses, and midwives for every 10,000 population, according to the latest report of health bulletin published yearly by the Health Ministry

Bangladesh lags behind in the ratio between patients, and their doctors and nurses, when compared to other neighboring countries, thereby hindering proper, and timely healthcare.

Bangladesh also falls behind in maintaining the minimum threshold of doctors, and nurses for every 10,000 population as set by World Health Organization.

The country has only 6 doctors, nurses, and midwives for every 10,000 population, according to the latest report of health bulletin published yearly by the Health Ministry.

The current doctor-patient ratio in Bangladesh is only 5.26 to 10,000, that places the country at second position from the bottom, among the South Asian countries, according to the WHO.

As a result, experts stressed the need for increasing the number of doctors immediately to ensure proper, and timely healthcare for every person.

Former President of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA), Rashid E Mahbub urged the government to recruit more doctors without delay to match with the WHO threshold.

‘For a sustainable healthcare system we must have enough doctors to serve citizens’, he said.

Patients, their attendants’ plights 

‘I had to wait for about two months, getting an appointment for my father to visit a specialized doctor at his private chamber after failing to reach the doctor at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, outdoor department’, said Rafia Sultana, a private bank employee.

When she took her father, Abdul Malek, who had been suffering from several old-age complications, to BSMMU outdoor in January, the on-duty doctor there wrote some medical tests, and asked them to visit a specialized doctor with the results.


Also Read- Dhaka faces doctor glut while 20.4% DGHS posts lie vacant countrywide


After finishing the tests, Rafia tried several doctors for appointment but could not manage one by March. Finally, she got it in May, and saw the specialist. 

Arif Ullah Mahmud, an engineer, who recently admitted his younger sister to Mugdah General Hospital in Dhaka, said that he had to face problems in the hospital as there were not enough nurses there.

‘On most occasions, we could not find any nurse to look after my sister who had an ovary surgery in April of this year’, he said.    

The doctor-patient ratio in other South Asian countries are,  7.77 in India, 9.75 in Pakistan, 9.5 in Sri Lanka, 6.5 in Nepal, 8.6 in Myanmar, and 22.3 in Maldives. Only Bhutan is placed behind Bangladesh in maintaining the ratio. Bhutan has 3.7 doctors to every 10,000 population, WHO data states.

The country also falls behind from all of its South Asian neighbors in nurses-patient ratio as it has only 3.06 nurses to provide services to every 10,000 population.

The nurses-patient ratio in other South Asian countries are,  21.07 in India, 21.15 in Sri Lanka, 26.85 in Nepal, 15.09 in Bhutan, 9.79 in Myanmar, 5 in Pakistan and 3.02 in war torn Afghanistan.

In 2010, WHO categorized 49 countries as priority country, and set a minimum threshold of 23 doctors, nurses, and midwives per 10, 000 population to deliver essential maternal and child health services. Bangladesh is included in the list of those countries prioritized by the UN Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health, stated the WHO website.

There are some 86,800 MBBS doctors, and dentists registered with the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council, the regulatory body for doctors, and medical education.

Among them, about 20,000 doctors are currently employed with government facilities, which make the ratio as 1.29 doctors for every 10,000 population, according to a health bulletin.

As of March 31, 2019, Bangladesh has a total of 56,733 registered nurses, and midwives, working in different positions, including nursing superintendent, deputy nursing superintendent, nursing supervisor, senior staff nurse, and staff nurse who are employed at different government, private, and army institutions, and NGOs.

Bangladesh, however, is improving, and is currently ahead of India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Afghanistan in providing access to quality healthcare to citizens as revealed by a study conducted by a leading British medical journal, The Lancet.

In the study, Bangladesh ranked 133rd among 195 countries in providing access to quality healthcare, and fell behind Sri Lanka and China in these areas.

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