The need for dedicated children's hospitals (Shishu Haspatals) in the country cannot be overemphasised. The Prime Minister's call for establishing such hospitals in every division of the country underscores this long-felt need. She made the call late last week at a function marking the operation of community vision centres at 45 more upazila health complexes in 15 districts. Given the myriad problems afflicting the child health sector in the country, expansion of specialised childcare facilities, now concentrated in large cities, is long overdue. The greater the reach of such dedicated hospitals is the higher the chance of ensuring healthcare for children at the grassroots level. The country's upazila heath complexes under 64 districts are presently catering to the medical needs of the child patients. However, the standard of treatment and medication involving children is not always up to the mark. Cases of faulty treatments and the resultant complications continue to recur. It compels many parents to opt for district hospitals, and private clinics.
The government-supported Bangladesh Shishu Hospital in the capital is serving as a tertiary health facility for treating child patients from across the country. As a hospital, it is well-staffed, well equipped and less expensive. Many of the child specialists of the country serve it as consultants. For the average affluent parents, in the cases of complicated turns of their child patients, they have few options except going to the Bangladesh Shishu Hospital in Dhaka or Maa O Shishu Hospital in Chattogram. Many of the district-based child hospitals have lately earned good name for their higher standard service. Against this backdrop, the division-based dedicated children's hospitals will have to offer specialised child healthcare in order to stop child patients' rush to Dhaka. The number one problem will be to find the required number of specialised paediatric physicians for so many hospitals.
In the vast rural area, it's the herbal medical practitioners and faith healers who are still found ruling the roost on the parents of the child patients. Modern treatment of children's ailments still remains elusive to hundreds of patients. The problem lies with bringing proper healthcare to the children and vice versa. It's a daunting task. But when an area is located within the range of a dedicated hospital, long-term results may follow. As a dedicated hospital targets a particular disease or diseases, there is no reason why this move will not prove successful.
In terms of humans it aims at a particular segment --- from the elderly to the children. Dedicated hospitals have been seen in Dhaka during the Covid-19 pandemic, when patients were admitted to these facilities to enable them to get cured. The recovery rate was quite satisfactory. The dedicated divisional hospitals for children will bring about a paradigm shift if the plan is well executed. Unlike with the conventional hospitals, required treatment and cares meant for child patients could be availed here under one roof. If run well, dedicated hospitals for children can immensely contribute to improvement of child health and ultimately national health.