The rights bodies of the country, at a virtual seminar, have urged that health not only be recognised as a basic need, but also be considered a fundamental right in Bangladesh's constitution.
The BDCSOProcess, a forum of 700 civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Bangladesh, along with COAST Trust, organised the virtual seminar titled "Better Health: Stand Up for Human Rights," on Wednesday.
The event was organised on the eve of Rokeya Day, which is on 9 December, and ahead of Human Rights Day, celebrated on 10 December, according to a press release.
They also raised concerns over Bangladesh's national achievements on the eve of 50 years of independence, whether the country has achieved its principles of: the Liberation War, democracy, socialism, secularism, and nationalism.
The virtual seminar was chaired by Ms Saheen Anam of Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), while Ms Shireen P Huq of Naripokkho attended as a special guest. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of BDCSOProcess, moderated the event, it read.
Other key speakers were: Afzal Hossain of RULFAO, Rajshahi; AKM Jashim Uddin of ADAB; Ms Merina Lovely, Channel i representative in Rangpur; Jahirul Islam, The Business Standard Barishal Bureau; Ms Basanti Saha of Dropon, Cumilla; AHM Bazlur Rahman of BNNNRC; Ms Sarati Shaha of SEED, Rangpur; Akbar Hossain of RPF, Rangpur; Anwar Zahid of ICDA, Barishal; and Mostafa Kamal Akanda of COAST.
Ms Shireen Pervin Huq said, "The courage was shown by Begum Rokeya hundred years ago and our nation has to show the courage again. Profit-mongering and corruption in health, along with all other sectors, increased during this novel coronavirus period, undermining human rights both in the public and private sector."
She urged all to raise their voices to establish health as a fundamental right in Bangladesh's constitution.
In her speech, Ms Saheen Anam said, "While as a nation, we fought for liberation with four principles, then how are we showing our power to grab land and rights of indigenous people? It is shameful," she said, according to the statement.
Ms Bashanti Shaha said, "Freedom of expression is our basic right, the Digital Security Act is a blatant obstacle and great fear in this regard."
AKM Jashim Uddin said, "As a nation, we have respected the basic protection of Rohingyas, amidst multiple of our crises, the international community hardly did anything for their repatriation. And currently, these international communities are blaming our government and misinterpreting our generosity."
Jahirul Islam Jewel, raised the issue of poverty among the fishermen community of islands and how government policy is creating more trouble for them, read the statement.
He and Ms Merina Lovely described the desperate situation of Barishal's and Rangpur's divisional hospitals. Ms Merina Lovely also described how around 10 lakh people have become jobless in Rangpur during the novel coronavirus period.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said that NGOs and civil society should not only be limited to service delivery. Instead, they must raise their voices on civil rights. Further, they must demand mediation, need to create space and should continue dialogue at all levels for transformation. But they need to change themselves first, he added, according to the statement.