Healthcare in the cities is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Local Government, whereas the Health Ministry looks after the rest
Healthcare services are well organized for residents of rural areas of the country, as they have community clinics, union health and welfare centres, and upazila health complexes, but city corporations do not have a well organized setup, experts told a program on Sunday.
Mentioning the Local Government Act 2009, Dhaka South City Corporation Chief Health Officer Brig Gen Dr Md Sharif Ahmed said: “The healthcare system in the urban and rural areas is quite different.”
The healthcare system of Bangladesh is divided into two sections. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare provides health services to the entire country except city corporations, while the healthcare services in city corporations are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Local Government.
“There are many authority figures but nobody to take proper care. That is the irony,” explained Brig Gen Dr Md Zobaidur Rahman, chief health officer of Dhaka North City Corporation.
He made the statements at the initiation ceremony of the nine-month-long Applied Epidemiology and Public Health Management Fellowship Course, an initiative by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives (LGRD).
The fellowship program has been organized under the Strengthening Urban Health System Project, which is jointly implemented by Save the Children and South Asia Field Epidemiology and Technology Network (Safetynet).
Pointing out the issue of population density in urban areas, Maj Gen Dr Md Nasir Uddin (Rtd), member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Defence, said: “We have to admit that though our rural health system’s structure is well developed, the urban counterpart is unorganized. Public health is one of the neglected areas. We need to explore and develop more avenues of public health.”
Dr Neely Kaydos-Daniels, country director of the CDC, illustrates how the cities are in particular risk of fallout from natural or manmade disasters as well as disease outbreaks.
“As we have seen from the current pandemic situation, the cities are at risk, particularly from infectious disease outbreaks,” she said.
Providing healthcare support to a huge population is a challenge, however, she also feels it is an opportunity for Bangladesh.
“This is an opportunity for collaboration and cooperation, not only among public health professionals and health officials but also city corporation planners and public leaders,” she said.
“The major challenge in public healthcare, as I observed over the years, is how do we engage and mobilize the larger public, how do we motivate them, create example for them to follow and show them that together we can improve and build a strong public healthcare system,” Onno Van Manen, country director of Save the Children in Bangladesh, said.
Acting deputy country director of Save the Children in Bangladesh Shamim Jahan, and Country Head of Safetynet and Consultant of US CDC, Bangladesh Office Syed Hassan Abdullah were also present at the program.