In rural Bangladesh, more people die from maltreatment than from lack of health care. Community paramedics can play an important role in eliminating this untimely death.
Speakers observed at a seminar, titled "Community Paramedics: A Skilled Healthcare Workforce in Rural Bangladesh", organised at BMA Bhaban in the capital on Monday.
Presenting the keynote at the seminar, Rezaul Karim, senior manager of Achieving Sustainability Towards Healthcare Access (ASTHA), said, "The government of Bangladesh formulated the Community Paramedic Policy in 2009 to ensure healthcare to the rural people. The Bangladesh Nursing and Midwifery Council is responsible for the overall supervision of this course. Under its supervision, a total of 23 institutes across the country have been conducting the course since 2011. Students can get admission to the course after passing SSC. After completing the two-year community paramedic course and six months internship at any hospital, they can provide primary health care to the rural people."
Rezaul Karim said, "Community paramedics are not doctors, they are skilled health workers. Community paramedics can provide primary health care, general disease treatment, family planning services, pregnancy services, postpartum services, and neonatal health care. They can refer the patient to the right doctor at the right time. At the end of the two-year course, if paramedics provide healthcare in their respective areas, the number of quacks in the villages will be reduced in the next 15-20 years."
Dr Jafar Ahmad Hakim, a senior advisor to ASTHA, said that despite the government's infrastructure in the health sector, the manpower is much less. The Astha Project is working to create manpower in the health sector. So far, about 6,000 skilled community paramedics have been trained across the country. Through them, services can be provided in rural areas of the country.
Dr Mohammad Zakir, Senior Advisor to Astha, said the rural people face a crisis of doctors. The crisis of nurses and paramedics is also evident. Community paramedics can overcome this crisis.
In Bangladesh, there are 7.3 health workers for every 10,000 people, whereas according to the World Health Organisation, 44.5 health workers are needed for every 10,000 people. The number of primary health care providers and skilled health workers in the villages is very low. That is why rural people have to rely on quacks and incompetent service providers.