It is good news that as part of the government’s yearlong celebration of the “Mujib Barsho” marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the government has embarked on an ambitious health scheme setting up special health camps at 300 constituencies simultaneously across the country. We are told that nearly 5 lakh people will receive treatment for free at the special camps, to be held on February 28 next year.
Hospital treatment is an impossible cost for the poor – even for sections of the middle class. Hence, setting up temporary free health camps would not be a viable solution for those who are not able to afford necessary healthcare services. We need to set up permanent heath camps for the poor which will provide them with comprehensive healthcare services round the year.
Though a doctor’s consultation in government
hospitals is largely free, patients have to
pay for implants or stents,
along with medical consumables
Millions of people in Bangladesh live in fear of getting sick, and not just because of the physical symptoms. For some, the cost of treatment can be equivalent to two years’ wages. Rapid economic growth over two decades has improved the lives of millions of people, but medical care is still unaffordable for many. Though a doctor’s consultation in government hospitals is largely free, patients have to pay for implants or stents, along with medical consumables. The cost of hospital treatment can be unaffordable, pushing an already poor family into debt.
What we really need are specific proposals. How can we lower drug prices and administrative overhead? How can we eliminate waste and make care-delivery more efficient? How can we lower hospital prices and specialists’ salaries? How can we reduce patients’ out-of-pocket costs? What can and must be done if we’re going to address the social determinants of health?