The government is working on a 10-year plan to build Bangabandhu Health City in the capital with the aim to revolutionise the country's health services sector.
According to the project proposal, the Health City will be constructed on 153 acres of land in the Mahakhali area with an estimated cost of $35 billion.
Through this project, all the organisations under the Ministry of Health will be brought under one roof.
A plan has been taken to build the infrastructure by dividing the project into six zones including medical, higher education, and research.
Once the proposal is completed, it will be placed before Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for final approval.
The finance minister in his budget speech for the 2022-2023 fiscal year also mentioned the establishment of Bangabandhu Health City.
Earlier, the health ministry gave the responsibility of designing the Health City to a company called Professional Associates Limited. The design work has been completed recently.
Currently, there are four medical institutions - Infectious Diseases Hospital, Institute of Leprosy Control Hospital, National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH), National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital (NIDCH) - at the project site.
According to the design, the old and dilapidated buildings of these institutions will be demolished and modern high-rise buildings will be constructed on the project site.
Moreover, three new institutions and two hospitals have been proposed to be constructed under the project. They are – Mother and Child Hospital, Robotic Surgery Institute, Skin & VD Institute, Endocrinology Institute, and Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons (BCPS) Hospital.
Professor Ahmedul Kabir, additional director general (ADG) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) told The Business Standard (TBS), "Once the Bangabandhu Health City project is implemented, the health sector will be disciplined. All regulatory and monitoring institutions will be in one place."
"A lot of time is now wasted in sending letters from the DGHS to the Ministry of Health. In the Health City hall, all institutions will be in the same courtyard, and decisions can be made quickly by holding physical meetings," said Ahmedul Kabir.
In the initial plan, a goal was set for completing the construction work within 10 years. However, no date has been fixed yet for starting the work.
Officials of the health division said this project will be implemented with funding from government funds and various development partners.
Discussions with various development partners have already begun. A proposal in this regard was made to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year. They are expected to provide $1-2 billion in aid, they said.
Besides, this plan will be implemented in three phases considering the financing challenges, said the health officials, adding that not much money will be required at once.
Dr Syed Abdul Hamid, a professor of the Institute of Health Economics at Dhaka University, told TBS, "Multiple services will be available at Bangabandhu Health City hall. It is definitely an important project for the nation. But the decision has to be taken by looking at the macroeconomic conditions."
"This project will not benefit us overnight, but it will provide good support in the long term. There is no problem if this project is implemented with grant funding, but if it is with loan funding, then the decision should be made after carefully examining the cost-benefit," said the DU professor.
The medical institutions included in the Health City will only offer post-graduate degrees. There will be no hospital other than the BCPS Hospital and Mother and Child Hospital. The Sheikh Hasina Community Clinic Trust Building will also be located here.
Zone-wise infrastructure construction
Comprehensive and specific zoning arrangements have been made in the city with residential arrangements for hospitals, services, administration, institutes and research centres, and concerned public health officials.
There will be residential facilities for the staff of the National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital (NIDCH), National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH), Institute of Public Health, National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (Nipsom), and Directorate of Health, Directorate of Drug Administration.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP), Directorate General of Medical Education (DGME), Ministry of Health, Secretariat (Health Services), Secretariat (Health Education), Health Engineering Department, Directorate General of Nursing and Midwifery will be in located in proposed Administration Zone.
Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Institute of Rheumatology, Sheikh Hasina Community Clinic headquarters, Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC), Biotechnology Institute, and Institute of Health Technology will be located in the Institute and Research Zone.
The proposed Hospital and Medical Services zone will include a civil surgeon office, Infectious Diseases Hospital, Institute of Leprosy Control Hospital, National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH), National Institute of Diseases of the Chest and Hospital (NIDCH), Mother and Child Hospital, Robotic Surgery Institute, Skin & VD Institute, Endocrinology Institute, and Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons (BCPS) Hospital.
The Public Health zone will be constituted of the Institute of Public Health, Institute of Public Health Nutrition, National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM), Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), and Nursing Institute.
The Residential Facility zone will include nursing dorms, doctor's condo, staff quarter, and doctor's quarter.
Finally, the Utility Services zone will include Central Medical Stores Depot (CMSD), MOFP warehouse, National Electro Medical Equipment Maintenance, Workshop, and Training Centre (NEMEMW), and Transport and Equipment Management Organisation (TEMO).