The number of skilled health workers across the country is extremely low, only 2 against every 10 doctors while World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 50. Because of this, the people at rural areas largely depend on unskilled providers. To overcome this scarcity, it is essential to develop adequate number of skilled health workers immediately.
Speakers at National Consultative Meeting-2020 on "Community Paramedics: A Skilled Healthcare Workforce in Rural Bangladesh" on Monday at Hotel Amaari, Gulshan in Dhaka made the observation.
Trained community paramedics are created through two-year course certified by Bangladesh Nursing and Midwifery Council (BNMC). By increasing the number of these workers, it is possible to ensure primary healthcare at grassroots, speakers opined.
Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Additional Director General (Admin) Prof Dr Nasima Sultana was chief guest at the event.
She said, the number of community paramedics is too little. So far, only 5,700 paramedics have been created and 4,500 are giving health services, she said mentioning that the number should be increased.
Appreciating the government for its initiative to enhance the number of doctors and nurses, Dr Jamaluddin Chowdhury, EC Member, Bangladesh Medical Association added that emphasis should also be given on increasing the number of para professionals.
DGFP Line Director (Field Services) Dr Sarwar Bari mentioned that, the role of community level health workers is crucial in meeting universal health coverage. Such workers have contributed substantially in the country's healthcare indicators. Therefore, an accredited workforce like community paramedics is essential in sustaining quality primary healthcare at the grassroots level. Community paramedics should be integrated within the public health system.
Dr Jafar Ahmad Hakim, Senior Advisor, ASTHA further added that public acceptance and recognition of community paramedics is important to raise their number.
Swisscontact Bangladesh Country Director Mujibul Hasan called for collective participation of all public and private stakeholders in achieving the vision of SDG Goal-3 while delivering vote of thanks.
BNMC Registrar Shuriya Begum asserted that there is no better alternative to community paramedics in meeting the unmet healthcare needs in the rural areas. The government should therefore focus on promoting this cadre.
ASTHA project works towards reducing youth unemployment and ensuring provision of quality healthcare in underserved areas, explained Fazle Razik, Team Leader, ASTHA.
He also mentioned during this time of Covid-19, these health workers are playing a vital role by supporting government efforts in controlling the disease.