A WORRISOME sign that has featured prominently in health services, as a study report of Transparency International, Bangladesh launched on Wednesday says, is that profit has been the main driving force for health care in the private sector, to the jeopardy of patients. With profit driving health services in the private sector, owners of hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres, which have had a mushrooming growth across the country in recent years, are reported to have been offering substandard healthcare services, with human resources that are not properly qualified. Many of hospitals and clincis are reported to be running unlicensed while many licensed for general health treatment are reported to be offering specialised health care. Private hospitals, more in outlying districts, are also reported to be sharing or hiring physicians from other health facilities without appointing physicians permanently. Most of such hospitals and clinics have no emergency wards, post-operative facilities and even power generators. People visiting such places for medical treatment do not only waste money but also do not receive the required treatment that the patients need. A nexus of profit involving hospitals, physicians and diagnostic also jeopardise patients.
The malpractice and irregularities all continue to take place with the government knowing fully well of it. The situation suggests that either the government has failed to streamline healthcare services in the private sector, more in outlying districts, or the government agencies responsible for holding owners of such hospitals, clinics and laboratories to account have come to terms in exchange for money. With the government inaction being manifest in health services in the private sector, what has compounded the issue further is the government’s negligence of health services in the public sector. The government has yet to develop a dependable public healthcare system, which in many cases prompt the people who can afford to go abroad for treatment, even in cases of minor health complaints. Such a negligence can also be likened to indifference towards the poor. While the government has failed to properly monitor private healthcare facilities — more than 15,600 private clinics, hospitals and diagnostic centres are reported to be running across the country — with an acute shortage of human resources, the government has failed to improve treatment facilities in public hospitals and to set up adequate number of public hospitals to offer dependable, balanced healthcare services.
The government, under the circumstances, must not only step up to the plate in oversight of private clinics, hospitals and diagnostic laboratories but also improve medical treatment that is on offer in public hospitals. It is the lack of public hospitals and lack of proper services therein that have prompted people to resort to private health services. The government must attend to this issue with a broad-based plan.
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