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How Bangladesh is improving its healthcare system

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the much-awaited Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Super Specialized Hospital, the first of its kind in the country, aiming to provide specialized treatment at a cheaper cost.

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The much-needed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Super Specialized, the first of its kind in the country, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last week. One of the main reasons the hospital has been labeled as super specialized is that it will offer certain medical services that are not available at most general hospitals in the country, such as bone marrow and gene transplants. It will be the country’s first medical facility where center-based medical services will be provided.

A patient will get comprehensive treatments at the five centers as each will have different departments, and disciplines. The new hospital features the largest medical service system in Bangladesh. The project was taken up in 2016 with a view to increasing BSMMU’s capacity by providing treatment for general and complex diseases, establishing a “safety net hospital” through the modernization of medical care and management, and ensuring the skill development of professionals.

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More than just building construction

Not only will the new hospital provide rare medical facilities, but it will also be an alternative option for many Bangladeshis, who opt to go abroad for treatment, saving some Tk 350 crore annually. At present, most critical patients of our country go to India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, or Europe as these countries have a reputation for high-quality treatment facilities. Around 700,000 Bangladeshi people go abroad for medical care each year and spend $3.5 billion,” said public health expert Dr. Tarek Hossain. Bangladeshi medical tourists go to India in the largest numbers – an estimated 425,000 patients each year. The super-specialized hospital will provide international standard facilities to these patients right here at home and that’s why the tendency of going abroad for treatment would certainly go down.

The hospital will open up a new horizon in healthcare services in the country. With state-of-the-art equipment and modern operation theatres, the BSMMU Super Specialised Hospital will provide treatment to all critical patients referred by any public or private hospital, or a physician.  Nano technology-based medical services and robot-assisted surgery would also be introduced at the super-specialized hospital in the near future. The hospital equipped with cutting-edge medical devices and a health information system (HIS) will open a new era of medical research as all information regarding the operation of this hospital and treatment will be stored automatically.

The state-of-the-art specialized hospital is also another symbol of the ever-lasting and ever-strengthening friendship between Korea and Bangladesh. Being one of the close partners of Bangladesh, South Korea has taken a long journey together during the past five decades with shared values and goals for the prosperity of the two countries. The health sector has long been one of the priority areas of South Korea’s ODA to Bangladesh with an aim to help provide quality healthcare services to Bangladesh people. The hospital has been built at a cost of Tk1, 366 crores on 3.4 acres of land to the north of the BSMMU.

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Of the construction cost, the Economic and Development Corporation Fund (EDCF) of Korea has provided Tk1,047 crore in soft loans. The low-interest loans are to be repaid in 40 years, with a grace period of 15 years. The structure of the hospital was constructed by Hyundai Development Company and the medical equipment was supplied by Samsung C&T Corporation. For smoother operations and management of the hospital, local physicians, doctors, medical staff, and administrative personnel were trained by experts from Korea.  56 health specialists from Korea will work in the hospital for two years from its opening to ensure smooth operation and train other staffers.

The hospital was designed and its construction supervised by Sunjin Engineering and Architects, thanks to the Korean government for its financial and technical support in the implementation of this project.

Cutting-edge facilities and world-class healthcare

The hospital is designed to accommodate a total of 750 beds with 14 ultra-modern operation theatres, a 100-bed intensive care unit, a 100-bed emergency unit, six VVIP, 22 VIP cabins, and 25 deluxe cabins in the hospital to provide specialized treatment at a cheaper cost. The specialized services include bone marrow transplant, gene therapy, and robotic surgery. The hospital will include five specialized centers: a Cardio and Cerebrovascular Centre, Hepatobiliary and Liver Transplant Centre, Mother and Child Health Care Centre, Kidney Disease Centre, and Accident and Emergency Centre.

There are provisions for isolated cabins, wards, a surgical intensive care unit (SICU), medical intensive care unit (MICU), coronary care unit (CCU), neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), among others. The 100-bed ICU unit will include 25 beds dedicated to surgical patients, 25 beds for medical patients, 25 beds for cardiac patients, 15 beds for neonatal, and 10 beds for pediatric patients. The hospital also has 10 modular operation theatres, where critical operations can be performed with modern tools and equipment.

Foreign and local specialized doctors and academics will attend the hospital for special medical consultancy and surgical operations. There will also be six designated centers for particular medical needs, while each ward will have eight beds. The six designated centers include those for specialized autism, maternal care and childcare, emergency medical care, hepatobiliary and gastroenterology, cardiology and cerebrovascular diseases, and nephrology at the primary stage.

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Some 5,000-8,000 patients will receive outdoor services every day at the hospital. Around 1,500 healthcare staffers including 300 physicians will provide services to patients at the hospital. To this end, at least 120 doctors, nurses, and other officers have already received training in South Korea. Every activity of the hospital will be done through an automated system, and patient data will be on the record for 100 years. Apart from a pharmacy, there will be banking facilities within the hospital. Most importantly, A state-of-the-art Hospital Information System (HIS) will include a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) and Order Communication System for the management of patients, allowing for advanced electronic medical reports and integrated appointment management through an app.

However, Bangladesh’s government has been working tirelessly to bring healthcare to the people’s doorsteps. The country’s public hospitals have been serving patients at over three times their capacity. The health sector’s share of the GDP can be little when compared to that of developed countries but the health budget increased by 12 times over a span of 21 years. In 2000-2001 fiscal, the budget allocation was Tk 2,689 crore, while it is Tk 32,731 crore for 2021-2022. The government had increased the number of hospital beds and improved medical services at general and specialized hospitals. The present government had appointed 18,000 doctors and recruited 20,000 nurses in the last 13 and a half years.

Apart from BSMMU, the government has established four more medical universities – in Rajshahi, Chittagong, Sylhet, and Khulna – to provide quality medical care and conduct health research. Moreover, the number of government medical colleges in the country currently stood at 39 and the government was in the process of setting up more of them. It is informed that medical universities would be established in each divisional city in phases.

The government has taken plans to set up eight burn units across the country. Most importantly, the government has approved a project “Hospital-Based Medical Waste Management”, to set up medical waste management infrastructure in 15 public hospitals, with a view to making the facilities safe, clean, and infection-free environments, as well as protecting the environment from hazardous waste.

Read more: Bangladesh: A tale of economic progress

However, with the construction of the first super-specialized hospital, it is expected that BSMMU will continue its relentless endeavors for the quality improvement of its education, healthcare services, and research activities. We hope that the country’s physicians would be able to open a new era of healthcare services through their research so that Bangladesh people can enjoy quality healthcare service and healthy life.

 

 

The writer is a Development worker and independent researcher in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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