'Formulate policy for private healthcare service providers'
Bangladesh Private Clinic and Diagnostic Owners' Association (BPCDOA) at a roundtable yesterday recommended the government to formulate a policy for private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres setting minimum, moderate and high criteria for their operation.
At the roundtable at the National Press Club in the city it also recommended to establish 'Continuing Medical Education' among the developing partners of the association for skilled manpower and setting minimum criteria for operating nursing institute of existing private clinics and hospitals.
Portraying the role that the private healthcare centres have been playing in the country, the speakers also suggested decentralising health management through private sectors.
BPCDOA President Dr Maniruzzaman Bhuiyan in his keynote paper said that of the total healthcare facilities in both urban and rural areas, 65 percent is provided by the private sector and the number of private healthcare centres have been increasing day by day that stands at 6639 as of April 2008.
The speakers said that failure of the public hospitals to provide quality service to the people leads to rapid growth of private healthcare centres, which are very expensive, and has little access to the poor people.
“If the government admits that getting healthcare service is people's basic and constitutional right, which should be ensured, then it should pay heed to ensuring the quality of service and expand the health facility. But if the government does not, then it can leave the country's healthcare system to private ownership,” said former adviser M Hafizuddin Khan.
He said that services provided by the government sectors are deteriorating day by day. He also criticised the private healthcare centres, saying they have very few fulltime healthcare personnel and the commoners cannot afford the cost they charge. At the same time they are doing harm to the nation by allowing the doctors from public hospitals to work there, he added.
“For having a viable private sector, we want to see fulltime health personnel there,” said Prof AK Azad Chowdhury of Dhaka University, adding that government should come forward to assist the private sector.
Stressing the need for public-private partnership in health sector, Dr AM Zakir Hossain, former director of Primary Health and Disease Control, said that the public sector lacks accountability.
By imposing some conditions like providing free treatment to the poor patients and keeping the monitoring system in its hand, the government can shift the sector to the private owners, he added.
However, National Professor Dr MR Khan said that it is not possible for the private healthcare centres to provide overall health service to the country's total population.
“So it is a must to ensure accountability of the public sector for which its quality of service has been deteriorating and should think of the ways to develop the sector,” he said adding that though the private hospitals have been providing good services, the cost these hospitals have been charging is not affordable to most of the people.
Urging the private clinics and diagnostic owners to provide quality service at a reduced cost, National Professor Dr Nurul Islam said that a council should be formed with efficient persons who would be able to strongly monitor the management system of both public and private healthcare systems as the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC) has turned into an ineffective body.
Justice Kazi Ebadul Haque, chairman of the Press Council, media personality Zillur Rahman and Chief Editor of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) Jaglul Ahmed Chowdhury also spoke.