• Wednesday, Jul 06, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

Private healthcare facilities growing in number, but lack emergency services

  • Published at 06:11 pm July 5th, 2021
File photo of a ICU unit at a Hospital Dhaka Tribune

BBS survey finds they grew nearly five-fold in two decades but still lag behind in providing some of the most basic medical services

Bangladesh’s private sector healthcare has come a long way over the past 20 years, well supplementing public sector health facilities, which often face difficulties in coping with the medical needs of an increasing number of patients. 

Even so, there is less than a hospital bed (0.96) available for every 1,000 Bangladeshis. Two-thirds of them are provided by private hospitals while a third comes from state-run ones. Bangladesh’s hospital bed availability is far less than the 3.5 beds (per 1,000 population) recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

When it comes to providing patients with emergency life support, only 4.25% of the private facilities have any advanced life support facilities and 15.09% have basic life support facilities. Many of these private hospitals also lack the capacities to cater to respiratory management and injury management services. Nearly half of these hospitals do not have any family planning services. 

These findings emerge from a just-published survey carried out by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). The nationwide ‘Survey of Private Healthcare Institutions’, which was conducted before the pandemic and published now, is the first since the last one by BBS in 2007. 

The survey shows that the country’s private and government health facilities now have 105,183 and 52,807 beds respectively.

“Only two decades back, public sector healthcare institutions were mainly responsible for providing primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare to people. But the situation has changed a lot today. During the early 1990s, Bangladesh committed itself to a free-market economy and as a consequence, the private healthcare sector began to expand. Now private sector health care has emerged as a vibrant economic sector due to the impetus of privatization and trade liberalization,” reads the report.

Over the past 20 years, Bangladesh has seen a number of its registered private hospitals go through a four-fold increase from 1,125 to 4,452; clinics have grown three-fold from 411 to 1397; dental clinics nearly seven-fold from 122 to 839; and diagnostic centres six-fold from 1,778 to 10,291. 

Of the total 16,979 private sector healthcare institutions Bangladesh is now home to, private diagnostic centers account for 60.61%, private hospitals account for 26.22%, private medical clinics account for 8.23% and private dental clinics’ share is 4.99%. 

“Private sector healthcare institutions have outnumbered public sector healthcare institutions by a large margin,” the BBS report states. 

Services provided by private healthcare facilities

Emergency Life Support: During the course of the BBS survey, only 15.09% and 4.25% of private hospitals reported that they had basic life support facilities and advanced life support facilities, respectively.

Less than a third of the hospitals (31.22%) said that they had services related to the management of respiratory conditions.  

General Outpatient Services: With respect to the management of ENT and gastrointestinal conditions (hepatitis), only 35.58 % and 29.20 % of the total number of hospitals respectively claimed having services. Only 9.3% of hospitals have services related to the management of sexual and gender-based violence.

Management for Injuries: It is evident from the BBS survey that only 28.82 % of the total number of hospitals can offer basic imaging services for violence and injuries. On the other hand, the percentage of hospitals that reported offering advanced imaging services and basic lab services was found to be 8.38% and 15.54% respectively.

Availability of Common Services: Over two-thirds (67.48%) of all private hospitals have been found to be offering antenatal care (ANC) services to patients. Delivery services, including newborn care, were reported available by 67.34 %, followed by family planning services (52.18 %). At the same time, HIV counseling and testing appeared to be the least available service, with only 8.74 % of the total number of hospitals.

Private hospitals 

Currently, a total of 4,452 registered hospitals are providing healthcare services to the people of the country. Of these, nearly 44% (1,947) are individually owned or operated under single ownership, while nearly 40% of others (1,771) operate under ownership arrangements in partnership. 

A total of 58 hospitals are run by private limited companies, while 18 hospitals operate under foreign ownership. NGOs operate 176 hospitals and yet another 140 hospitals are run in various other capacities.  

Private clinics 

Currently, a total of 1,397 registered clinics are providing healthcare services to the people of the country. Of this total, some 39% (544) are individually owned or are operated under single ownership. The number of private clinics under the partnership is 393. 

A total of 91 clinics are run by private limited companies. Foreign entities are involved in the operation of 57 clinics. On the other hand, 255 clinics are being managed, controlled and financed by Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). The remaining 57 clinics account for other categories of ownership.

Dental clinics 

Almost 92% (769) of all registered dental clinics (839) in the country are individually owned or operated under single ownership. The number of private clinics under partnership is 60.

A total of seven clinics are operated under private limited companies. The remaining three clinics are being run under some other ownership categories. 

Diagnostic centres 

At present, a total of 10,291 private diagnostic centers are providing healthcare services to people. Over half of these (5529) diagnostic centers are individually owned or are operated under a single ownership. 

There are over 40% others (4,139), which are under some sort of partnership ownership. Some 324 diagnostic centres are being operated under private limited companies; 18 others are run by foreign entities. NGOs run 86 diagnostic centres while 172 more are being operated under various other ownership categories. 

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