A tendency to commercialisation in private healthcare sector in the country is acute. A commission-based marketing mechanism has developed in this sector. This private medical sector has turned into an “excessive profit-seeking businesses” due to a lack of government monitoring, according to a recent study published by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).
In the study titled “Private Medical Service: Challenges of Good Governance and Ways Forward”, TIB said general people in the country go to private hospitals and diagnostic centres for getting treatment as the healthcare service in the public sector is very scanty. The healthcare service in the private sector is very expensive. But the patients, despite paying excessive fees, do not get proper healthcare services in return. In most of the cases, they are being cheated and harassed. The anti-corruption watchdog strongly recommended that the government forms an independent commission to check the irregularities.
The research for the study was conducted on 66 private hospitals and 50 diagnostic centres across the country between January and December last year. Of those, 26 were in Dhaka metropolitan areas.
According to the study report, 63.3 percent of the households of the country take medical services from the private sector. Citing Health Bulletin-2015 of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the study also said 60.3 percent of the doctors are involved in the private healthcare services. The number of privately-owned registered healthcare facilities increased to 15,698 in 2017 from just 33 in 1982.
During the research, a TIB team found that round-the-clock doctor services were not available at 52 of the 66 hospitals. Twenty-four-hour nurse services were not available at 53 hospitals while cleaners were not available at 29 hospitals all the time. The team also alleged that low-quality and date-expired reagents were used for conducting many tests there.
Again, most of the surveyed facilities started their operation without even obtaining the mandatory registration. Of the 116 hospitals and diagnostic centres, 97 did not obtain any certificate from the Department of Environment, it added. Most of those facilities did not maintain waste-management system accordingly while unhygienic ambience was apparent in 32.
Proper medical and health care is one of the fundamental rights of the citizens. So, health care service in this sector should be made available and standard. The government should pay a careful notice to this end. The anti-corruption watchdog TIB has placed 16 recommendations to establish transparency and accountability in this sector or control this sector. Among the recommendations, the anti-corruption watchdog strongly recommended that the government forms an independent commission to check the irregularities.
It also suggested the regulatory authorities like the DGHS and the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC) to increase their organisational capacity at central and field level to have better inspection capabilities. The TIB also recommended that the authorities like the DGHS take steps to identify the unregistered institutions and take legal action against them. It also recommended that the BMDC increases its monitoring across the country to stop the “unethical publicity stunts” by some doctors.
Following the study report, it can be easily said that private healthcare service sector has been developed to fulfill the commercial purpose. They are conducting these healthcare centres according to their wish. As a result, these centres have turned into an excessive profit-seeking business which is a matter of great concern.
We believe the healthcare service sector will be acceptable to the general people if these recommendations are implemented comprehensively. Better service could be ensured in the health sector and people’s faith to this sector could be restored if responsible persons show due dedication and do their duties accordingly.
risingbd/Dhaka/Feb 11, 2018/Ali Nowsher/AI