Healthcare in Bangladesh
Healthcare in Bangladesh is not as sophisticated as in more developed countries; however, the country is working to improve and provide further funding to its healthcare system. So far Bangladesh has made great strides in increasing healthcare access for its people, but there is still a long way to go. Here are seven important facts about healthcare in Bangladesh.

7 Facts About Healthcare in Bangladesh

  1. Bangladesh has a pluralistic healthcare system. This healthcare system is highly decentralized. As a result, it is regulated and controlled by for-profit companies, NGOs, the national government and international welfare organizations. This shared power has caused many problems, including unequal treatment programs between social classes. Even though the laws and overall system are spearheaded and steered by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, other organizations have considerable influence on the decision-making.
  2. There is a shortage of physicians, specialists and clinical equipment. In Bangladesh, the number of physicians per 10,000 people is only about 3.06, which is significantly low. The number of nurses per 10,000 people is even lower, standing at 1.07. Additionally, only 35% of health and clinical facilities in the country have more than 75% of sanctioned staff working and there is a 36% vacancy in sanctioned healthcare workers. There is also a 50% vacancy in alternative medicine providers. These numbers are one of the reasons that Bangladesh’s quality of healthcare is low compared to many other Asian countries.
  3. Non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of death in Bangladesh. Most deaths are caused by cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and malnutrition. There are almost no alcohol-related deaths due to alcohol consumption and sale being illegal in the country. A 2016 study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that tobacco usage has decreased for both men and women, with only 23% of the population using tobacco products. Obesity has remained low, rising slightly, but still only affected 2% of adolescents and 3% of the adult population. However, poor nutrition is still prevalent, leading to diabetes and high blood pressure.
  4. Most physicians and healthcare workers are concentrated in urban areas. Rural areas often do not have proper healthcare facilities. To remedy this, the national government has set up many government-funded hospitals in rural areas that provide cheaper treatment for rural citizens. However, these hospitals are often poorly funded, understaffed and overly crowded due to a limited number of healthcare options in rural areas.
  5. Enrollment in medical colleges and healthcare training facilities has increased. This will benefit the country by increasing the number of healthcare workers in proportion to the population. However, this is only a recent trend and these future healthcare workers must complete their education and training before being able to fully practice their professions. The HPNSDP (Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Program) have already begun drafting and implementing a plan to further increase the number of nurses and midwives through training and education facilities.
  6. Socioeconomic inequality affects healthcare in Bangladesh. One area this can be seen in is infant mortality. The infant mortality rate for the lowest income quintile is 35 deaths per 1000 births, while infant mortality for the highest income quintile is only 14 deaths per 1000 births. One of the main reasons for this inequality is that most poor Bangladeshis live in rural areas that do not have adequate hospital facilities. However, even in urban areas, socioeconomic inequality has a large impact. A person with more money is generally able to receive better healthcare than someone who is poorer and cannot afford certain treatments or services. This is due to the fact that the healthcare system is decentralized and partially run by for-profit healthcare and pharmaceutical companies.
  7. Limited government funding has led to high out-of-pocket payments. One of the other reasons poorer citizens in Bangladesh cannot afford certain treatments or services is high out-of-pocket costs. On average, Bangladeshi citizens must pay 63.3% of the total cost, while the government pays the rest. This system creates a significant financial burden for impoverished families, sometimes forcing them to either forego treatment or go into debt. To reduce this burden, the government must increase healthcare funding.

These seven facts about healthcare in Bangladesh illustrate some of the barriers that Bangladesh must overcome to provide high-quality healthcare across the nation. The Bangladeshi Government’s constitution upholds that all citizens will be provided with equal treatment, including in healthcare. To achieve this, the government needs to address the current inequality and continue to make healthcare a focus of its efforts.

Sadat Tashin
Photo: Flickr

Global Poverty
As of 2013, 767 million men and women worldwide live under the global poverty line. Nearly 11 percent of the world’s population still struggle to make ends meet with less than $1.90 per person per day. According to recent World Bank statistics, much of this community is densely populated in sub-Saharan Africa. This region touts over half of the global impoverished community.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is one of the many organizations looking to make strides with this epidemic. Launched by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, USAID aims to lead the U.S. national effort to abolish socioeconomic inequality.

This agency has instituted multiple initiatives geared towards combating widespread global poverty. Most notably, the U.S. Global Initiative Lab, instituted in 2014, works in conjunction with prominent businesses and academic institutions to address preeminent wealth disparity issues through a wide network of pooled resources.

These cornerstone partnerships offer advanced research and development capabilities which would otherwise be unavailable to one single entity. The U.S. Global Initiative Lab has also recently sought to implement technological advances in these poverty-stricken communities. The Lab has labored to effectively reallocate funds to provide the necessary groundwork for these actions to take place.

One USAID administrator, Rajiv Shah, expresses optimism when discussing these changes in a 2014 interview with Time Magazine. “[…] if we could get and invent new seeds, new mobile technology, and open new data centers to help farmers connect their crop prices and understand weather variability, we can do something transformational […].”

In 2016, USAID requested a budget of $50.1 billion to carry out development activities. This lump sum included a $35.2 billion base request to directly support people and global health programs while bolstering American U.N. leadership.

In its Congressional budget justification, USAID recognized the need for “accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness in the use of taxpayer dollars.” Additionally, the agency directly pointed out the need for budget allocation to African programs.

This request specifically outlines the need to secure policies concerning democracy, education and economic growth. USAID points to democratic gains in Nigeria as well as political transitions throughout the continent as vital measures towards infrastructural improvement.

These initiatives illustrate a refreshing sense of awareness on the part of USAID. Blindly throwing money at an issue yields ineffective and temporary solutions. Dire situations require resilience and thoughtful action.

USAID’s mission statement calls for “democratic societies to realize their potential.” The organization does not look for immediate solutions to complicated problems. More accurately, USAID works to promote a stable environment which can cultivate economic prosperity for years to come.

USAID believes actions like theirs may go to “define the majority of the history written about our era.” Time will show the scope of the impact USAID can have in the fight against global poverty.

Brady Rippon

Photo: Flickr

The organ trade is the trade of human organs; in particular, the heart, liver and kidneys, all of which are the most commonly used organs for transplants. Selling organs is illegal in almost every country; yet, organ trafficking is thriving in the global market and occurs all over the world. The continuing demand for organs fuels the need for more supply, and people in need of organ transplants are taking advantage of the poor who are selling their organs.

Organ brokers interested in trafficking organs find communities where individuals have little to no opportunity to escape from poverty. They strategically approach individuals that appear relatively healthy who are willing to sell their kidneys, lungs or livers for money. Despite the risk of infection, a lack of qualified medical staff executing the organ extraction and a lack of follow-up treatment, poverty-stricken individuals sell their organs for as little as $60. Often, there are waiting lists of sellers willing and ready to sell their organs.

For those living in extreme poverty, economic opportunities are scarce and they are at the mercy of several disadvantages, such as little to no access to health care, education and other important services. The poorest individuals in communities are often marginalized from society and have little to no representation or voice. These factors make it even harder to escape poverty.

Organ trafficking statistics indicate that organ trafficking is on the rise globally, in tandem with the number of transplant surgeries.

In the United States, 4,000 people who need kidney transplants die each year. As of 2013, 121,272 Americans waited for an organ. It is estimated that 28,954 people received an organ and 14,257 others donated organs. Based upon these factors, unless some of these donors had given up two or more organs, half of the recipients must have obtained their organs illegally. Low rates of donation present limited options other than the black market. Research indicates that people who go overseas for organ transplants have an increased risk of injury, organ failure and death.

Over 114,000 organ transplants are done annually in over 100 countries. Due to the economic exploitation of global poverty, organ trafficking continues to exist. Nations must work together to find an end to organ trafficking.

– Erika Wright

Sources: Global Issues, PBS, UN.Gift
Photo: Flickr