Since inception in 2009, community clinics have been playing an epoch-making role in improving the overall antenatal and postnatal care, family planning and nutritional services, providing treatment for diarrhea, pneumonia and other childhood infections and counselling on the consequences of early marriage in Bangladesh. Government deserves kudos for its relentless effort for prioritizing the need for incorporating community clinics. As a consequence, community clinics are largely filling the gap in public healthcare system.
Gone are the days when rural people of Bangladesh had to go through immense sufferings from various diseases. There was no healthcare centre for treating the grassroots of the country but at present one will find community clinics almost in every upazila of Bangladesh.
With the integration of ‘Community Clinic Health Assistance Trust Act’, millions of people are getting services from the community clinics whereas just a decade ago healthcare facilities in the rural areas were very poor. By providing necessary healthcare services at the doorsteps of millions of rural people, community clinics have proved to be an efficient and low cost primary healthcare provider at the grassroots level.
In April last year, World Health Organisation placed Bangladesh as the top primary healthcare provider among South and South East Asian (SEA) nations, and the country’s community clinics are responsible for this success. In fact, the community clinics of the country have become a reference point as to how a country can successfully raise the primary healthcare following the Bangladesh model.
There are nearly 18,000 community clinics currently in the country and the number is gradually increasing. Reportedly, the community clinics, initiated under a government project, were going through crisis times owing to fears that they might be closed down with the project’s expiration. But the concerted efforts from the parts of the departments concerned have been able to revive the clinics.
Now what is needed is to ensure comprehensive healthcare services to the rural people, and in order to do that the government should look forward to equipping the clinics with adequate facilities and skilled manpower. The successful operation of community clinics, especially in rural areas, depends on people with required skills. Doctors must be trained and motivated to work in rural areas and the government should offer adequate incentives to them.
For further development of community clinics in the country, intervention of both public and private organisations is crucial.
In this regard, corporate houses can play an effective role by spending a portion of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund to develop the country’s healthcare sector. Also, there is a need to motivate the rural people for availing health services at the community clinic.