Health care is not free in Bangladesh. The initial consultation with
a doctor ranges from 500 to 1000 Takas, then there is the further
cost of medication.
Since the average monthly income is about 3000
Takas, many cannot afford to consult a doctor. There is the added
problem that there are not enough doctors for the population
Approximately 80 million people have no access to modern health
services other than immunisation and family planning. One impact
of this is that Bangladesh has some of the highest rates of
malnutrition and deaths of women from childbirth in the world.
One approach to address this problem is to offer rural doctors online
medical centres to help them provide better healthcare for their
A private company called Bangladesh Telemedicine Services
(BTS) has set up telemedicine centres to help doctors identify
diseases early on. They have computers and a library of CD-Roms
relating to medicine.
The centres are also linked to a network
of 200 specialists in Dhaka, who will be able to offer advice.
It is hoped that the project will be self-funding in that diseases
will be caught and treated much sooner, thereby saving money
in expensive treatment later on.
Whilst doctors say that in theory they are interested in the project,
local doctors have so far proved reluctant to use the first telecentre
in the village of Sonagazi.
Health experts suggest this may be
because rural doctors are reluctant to publicly show their lack
of knowledge. Others feel that there is a tendency to use their
own computer rather than visiting the centre.
But perhaps the
biggest stumbling block to the success of the project is the fact
at present the courses and CD-Rom study is not recognised by
an official certificate from the Bangladesh Medical Council.
Decreasing abortion rates
Another factor contributing to the high number of maternal deaths
has been that in the past many women resorted to unsafe illegal
abortions as a means of controlling their family size.
as recent research has show, by ensuring women have access to
high-quality family planning services, this can be prevented. Reliable
statistics are hard to verify, but in one area where the Maternal
Child Health and Family Planning Project (MCH-FP) has been set
up to provide health checks and education about contraception,
abortions have dropped to about a third of those in other areas.