We are leaving most of Dhaka’s denizens out in the cold in times of a health crisis
There is something very wrong with a system that forces a father to travel 13 kilometres in order to avail basic health care services for his sick child.
Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in Dhaka: Every day, millions of people across the city and from its outskirts find themselves commuting long distances, spending money on public transport, and giving up the day’s wages, just so that they can ensure their own and their family’s safety.
This is the inevitable result of the decades of neglect that our health care sector has faced, leaving it woefully unequipped and leaving countless vulnerable to death and disease.
Such a situation disproportionately affects the poor and the working class, as private health care can be prohibitively expensive, even among higher income groups.
Until recently, each administration has refrained from prioritizing the expansion of health care facilities, which has meant that there are not enough public hospitals which can provide adequate and affordable health care to Dhaka’s citizens.
Last year, in the 2021 budget, the health care sector may have received an increase in allocation from the year prior, but it still remains a small percentage relative to other sectors, despite the threat of a global pandemic, despite knowing how inadequate the sector has almost always been.
Considering the fact that 80% of Dhaka’s population is engaged in the informal sector, which more often than not results in much lower levels of income, this would mean we are leaving most of Dhaka’s denizens out in the cold in times of a health crisis, to say nothing of those living in rural areas.
Is this where decades of economic development have led us? What use is record-breaking GDP growth when many in the nation find themselves making a choice between saving their lives and losing their financial stability?