Speakers at a health conference yesterday said investment in preventive public health services should be the utmost priority of the government, as it can reduce the government's cost in curative health services.
They were speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day international conference marking 6th Public Health Foundation (PHF) Day, at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) auditorium in the capital.
“Sadly, policymakers often fail to perceive the importance of funding for public health protection. Actually, investment in preventive public health service will reduce the cost in the curative sector,” said Prof Baizid Khoorshid Riaz, director of National Institute of Public Health and Social Medicine (NIPSOM), while addressing the event.
Although a number of policy approaches guided the development of health sector in Bangladesh, some policy commitments like offering special incentive packages for doctors serving in the rural areas haven't been met, according to World Health Organization's Bangladesh Health System Review 2015.
“The budget in health sector in Bangladesh is lower than many countries in South Asia, even Afghanistan and Myanmar,” said Prof Muzaherul Huq, founding chairman of PHF, while addressing as guest of honour.
“How can we say it [Bangladesh is a healthy nation] when we see 64 percent or even more of people's disposable income is being spent for health expenses?” he added.
He urged the government not to allow opening of any school without playground. “How could we expect our children to be healthy if there are no playgrounds in schools?” he said.
Speaking as chief guest, National Professor Dr Shahla Khatun said, “I would like to advise the young generation, especially mothers, to give time to their children.”
Prof Md Sayedur Rahman, chairman of the department of pharmacology & therapeutics of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), delivered the opening keynote speech, speaking on the background and way out of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Bangladesh.
Presided over by Prof Fatema Ashraf, chairperson of PHF, speakers at the opening session included Abdul Quayum, associate editor of the Daily Prothom Alo; John David Clemens, executive director of icddr,b and Prof Faridul Alam, vice chancellor of Bangladesh University of Health Science (BUHS).
Some five sessions on different public health issues were held on the first day yesterday and eight more sessions will be held today.