The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines state that 10 items are needed to provide child curative care. Unfortunately, 95 percent of hospitals and healthcare institutions in the country do not have all the 10 basic instruments to treat children. And this data is coming from Bangladesh Health Facility Survey (BHFS) 2017 which remains unpublished for reasons beyond our comprehension. The survey, jointly funded by the government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), tells us that antenatal care (ANC) is in a sorry state and that a measly four percent of healthcare facilities in the country are up to the mark when it comes to providing quality ANC services.
While the relevant authorities have not been able to flatly deny or dismiss the survey, we were told that things were not as bad as they seemed. We were also told that the situation is good at upazila and district levels. Our question here is, where is the healthcare budget going? There have been innumerable reports in media that the authorities are very enthusiastic about building healthcare complexes, hospitals and procuring expensive and technologically-advanced medicare equipment. But we do not see the same enthusiasm going into properly staffing facilities with the requisite manpower, and as in this case, procuring basic items for something as important as child curative care. The report that was prepared last year needs to be published as soon as possible because policymakers need to understand the gravity of the situation. Sticking our heads in the mud and pretending that everything is going in the right direction hardly helps matters.