Experts: Public healthcare largely neglected in cities

Rural areas have well-organized healthcare services. They have community clinics and union health and welfare centers, and upazila and health complexes. However, city corporations lack a well-organized setup, according to experts.

Dhaka South City Corporation Chief Medical Officer Brig Gen Dr Md. Sharif Ahmed stated that the healthcare system in urban and rural areas was quite different.

Two sections make up the Bangladesh healthcare system. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare offers health services for the whole country, except for city corporations. However, the Ministry of Local Government provides healthcare services for city corporations.

"There are many authorities, but no one to provide proper care. This is the irony," said Brig Gen Dr Md Zobidur Rahman, chief medical officer of Dhaka North City Corporation.

At the initiation ceremony of the nine-month-long Applied Epidemiology and Public Health Management Fellowship course, he made the statements. This was an initiative of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives.

The Fellowship Program was organized under the Strengthening Urban Health System Project. This project is jointly implemented by Save the Children and South Asia Field Epidemiology and Technology Network.

Maj Gen Dr Md Nair Uddin (Rtd), a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, pointed out that urban population density is a problem. "We have to admit that while our rural health system structure is well-developed, the urban counterpart remains unorganized. The neglected area of public health is the one that needs attention. We must explore and develop new avenues for public health.

Dr Neely Kaydos -Daniels, the country director for the CDC, explains how cities are at particular risk from disease outbreaks and natural disasters.

She stated, "As we have seen in the current pandemic, cities are at risk, especially from infectious disease outbreaks."

Although it's a difficult task to provide healthcare support for a large population, she believes it is an opportunity.

She stated that "this is an opportunity to collaborate and cooperate, not only between public health professionals and officials but also among city corporation planners or public leaders."

Onno Van Manen, the country director for Save the Children Bangladesh, stated that the main challenge in public health care, which I have observed over the years is how to engage and mobilize the larger population, how can we motivate them and set an example for them to follow, and how can we show them that together, we can improve and create a strong public healthcare system."

The program was also attended by Shamim Jahan (Acting country director of Save the Children Bangladesh), and Syed Hassan Abdullah, Country Head of Safetynet, Consultant to the US CDC, Bangladesh Office.


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