'Quality healthcare needed to make Chittagong global city'
Without quality healthcare facilities, Chittagong can not be developed into a global city, said speakers at a seminar in Chittagong city yesterday.
The challenges in this connection are limited resources, rising costs of healthcare and degrading quality of service at public hospitals, said Prof Dr Tahmina Banu, Department of Paediatric Surgery, Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH).
Absence of amenities for the accurate diagnosis of diseases, lack of research on diseases, drug abuse, wrong prescription of drugs and food adulteration only add up to the challenges, she said.
The seminar, “Challenges to Quality Health Care”, was held at Mahbub Ali Hall of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Bhaban, participated by senior physicians and researchers.
It marked the end of the two-day conference, “Future Bangladesh, Future Chittagong, A Global Port needs a Global City”, organised by The Daily Star and BGMEA as part of The Daily Star's “Odommo Chattagram” festival.
Dr Tahmina, also the vice chair of Saarc Paediatric Surgeons Association, presenting her keynote through a PowerPoint presentation, said proper treatment and diagnosis of diseases, especially in newborns, could be the way towards ensuring quality healthcare.
Unfortunately, Chittagong still lags behind in the diagnosis of many life-threatening diseases, prompting the residents to head for Dhaka for the treatment of cancer, severe burn injuries, heart diseases and kidney complexities, she said.
Many residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and islands like Sandwip can not even attain the basic healthcare services, she said.
However, she said the situation could be improved with the maximum utilisation of existing facilities, close monitoring in hospitals, accountability among healthcare providers and proper financing.
In his speech, former health secretary AKM Zafrullah Khan, quoting a Health Bulletin published by the Health Department in 2011, said the majority of vacant posts under the health department lie in Chittagong.
Tertiary level healthcare services, especially in upazila health complexes, in Chittagong are not up to the mark though the infrastructure is there, he said.
Dr Samanta Lal Sen, national coordinator for burns, Ministry of Health, said around 16 lakh people receive burn injuries every year but they only have the 50-bed burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital to seek treatment. “It is essential to set up a burn unit at Chittagong to treat its 2,000 or so burn patients each year,” he said, adding that a regional burn centre is being set up at the Railway Hospital in Chittagong.
Maa O Shishu Hospital Chairman Prof ASFM Karim, presiding over the session, said the disparity in the ratio of healthcare service providers to patients must come down, from the present 1:16,000 to 1:2,500.
CMCH Director Brig Gen Md Fashiur Rahman said CMCH still has the same infrastructure it had started out with in 1957 while only the number of beds increased, from 120 to 1,010.
Every day around 28,000 to 35,000 patients seek treatment at CMCH while it has to house around 6,000 people. This huge task makes it quite difficult to provide the required quality in healthcare services, he said.
Chittagong Medical College (CMC) Principal Prof Selim Md Jahangir emphasised “administrative autonomy” or “emergency financial autonomy” to solve the college's problems in the quickest possible time.
He cited the example of the CMC mortuary freezers, which could be immediately fixed through this provision but instead lies unusable as the process of requesting for and the arrival of government funds takes too long.
He underscored the need for ensuring better salaries for teachers at medical colleges so that students can be ensured quality education and turned into efficient doctors.
“We need 70,000 more doctors in our rural areas to ensure quality healthcare,” he added.
Former CMC principal Prof Dr Imran Bin Yunus, quoting Plato on traditional expectations of patients, said patients want to be listened to, understood and cared as a fellow human being.
Patients also want reasonable degrees of knowledge and skill in the doctor and do not want to be abandoned, he said.
The media could have programmes informing people of the healthcare services available and how to attain them. “We need three Es -- Education, Engineering and Enforcement -- to attain success,” he said.
Speaking on urban lifestyle and new diseases, cardiologist Dr Mohsin Karim said an increasing number of young people are contracting heart diseases as they take on pressure greater than their capacity to attain their goals in this competitive age.