In an overpopulous country like ours, many of the physicians try to deliver the best services possible despite their limitations. True, there are instances of wrong treatment.
Acknowledging human errors let it be emphasised that efforts and sincerity of physicians in general should not be undermined.
However, it is our conviction that the lapses are largely the outcomes of partisan politics that has affected this service sector and various professions and professional groups. Negligence to service is not in any way a Bengali tradition.
Historically, the best students get enrolled with medical colleges, apart from engineering institutes. The medical students had to pass through difficult process of study and practical classes to attain degrees such as MBBS (bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery).
Even after securing degrees, physicians have to sit for civil service examinations under the Public Service Commission (PSC). Young doctors are then posted as medical officers at the government facilities in rural areas. They also pursue higher studies including foreign degrees to acquire up-to-date knowledge of medical science.
Most of them return home while some prefer staying abroad for what is believed to be better living. This is called brain drain. Some of them still ignore lucrative foreign job offers to serve their motherland. In case they themselves fall ill, they take treatment at home and even undergo surgery.
However, there are people who have means and intention to go abroad even for treatment of minor ailments. The privileged and the powerful who are responsible for improving health sector governance, don't hesitate to go abroad for treatment quite often.
Of course, there are good doctors and good and affordable treatment at home but sometimes they are not either known to people or the commoners cannot reach them in time of dire need.
The tendency to prefer foreign treatment leads to loss of confidence in Bangladesh's healthcare system. Issues that have resulted in the current situation should certainly be addressed to restore the image and ensure the best possible medicare services at home.
For any public interest issue that needs to be tackled, three stages are involved: It is the political at the top, the administrative in the middle and the technical at the bottom.
It is the responsibility of the administration to provide funds, materials and facilities to technical professionals, who would work to deliver services to people and give their feedback to the administration. The administration, in turn, will keep political leadership informed and the leaders would pass that on to the people and receive their reactions as public representative. As such, mutual respect develops, apart from framing of rules and regulations to regulate the system.
Any violation of the system, be it politicisation or corruption, would only hamper efficiency and service delivery, and result in collapse in discipline. That is what has happened in the health sector.
If these shortcomings could be removed, there is no reason why Bangladesh's medicare services would not compare with the ones in the advanced countries.
Muhammad Quamrul Islam is a lawyer.
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