Community health in jeopardy | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 04, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 04, 2011

Editorial

Community health in jeopardy

Get the clinics up and running

A leading Bangla daily has found an appalling set of anomalies in state-funded community clinics all over the country. While some clinics are open only from two to three days a week, others don't open at all and have been left derelict. In many cases doctors are not available and health workers do not turn up for work on a regular basis.
The most disturbing factor this investigation has revealed is shameful pettiness of a successor government to undo any kind of development work initiated by the previous party in power, no matter how beneficial for the public. The report has found that in 1998 when the Awami League was in power they had planned to set up a community clinic for every 6000 people giving a total of 13,000 such clinics for the whole country. Till 2001, more than 10,000 clinics had been built with 1000 of them running. But then in 2001, with a change in government when the BNP-led coalition came to power, the entire project was abandoned. The clinics became derelict buildings with no staff to provide care to the people.
The AL, then the opposition, predictably promised that all the clinics would resume functioning once they came back to power. Yet now that they are in power, and health and family planning Minister Ruhul Huq says community clinic is at the top of the list of priorities of the health sector, what's stopping the turnaround from happening? Actually his job seems cut out. Some of the clinics, especially in remote areas, don't have any staff at all. Others, according to the report, are filled with AL supporters and their relatives to run them. Inaccessibility to the clinics because of lack of proper roads, unlawful prescribing of antibiotics are a few added thorns in the system.
It goes without saying that community health clinics play a crucial role serving low-cost health care to the underprivileged. Such gross negligence and waste of public resources will result in millions of people being deprived of basic health care, without which many lives will be prematurely cut short. The government is pledge-bound to get these clinics up and running.

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