Life expectancy up, says minister

Life expectancy up, says minister


Health minister AFM Ruhal Haque has claimed that improved health services during his government’s tenure pushed up people’s average

life expectancy by three years.
“It was 65 years during BNP-led government’s tenure. Now it’s 67.7 years, and for females it is 68.79 years,” he told health reporters on
Thursday on the eve of his government’s five year in office.
The minister said their efforts had taken health services to remote villages, and hospital beds and staff had increased.
Maternal and child deaths, too, had dropped sharply, and the drive to immunize the maximum number of children had been stepped up.
“All these contributed to the increased life expectancy,” he said.
The current government had assumed power in January 2009 and the next general election is expected to be held between October 25 and January
Bangladesh Health Reporters’ Forum (BHRF) organised the ‘meet the press’ where the minister admitted that a few things had remained
“unfulfilled”, although the sector had come “a long way”.
“I wanted to introduce a pre-paid card system for people below the poverty line so that they can avail health services at any place
completely free. But could not introduce it this time,” he said.
He said, during his term, newborn deaths reduced to 24 per 1000 from 54 and maternal deaths were down to 194 per 100,000 from 320.
“You will not hear government drugs are being pilfered,” he said, citing his initiative of introducing national bi-colours in packaging
government supplied drugs, preventing their sale elsewhere.
He said the government had taken steps to operate community clinics on their own, despite donors had been pressing to hand over some of them
to NGOs.
At present, over 12,000 community clinics were functioning across Bangladesh, treating, so far, nearly 170 million patients, he said.
He said the number of hospital beds had been raised from the union to the tertiary levels. “All 31-bed hospitals have been made 50-bed,” he
said, and that doctors had been recruited on an emergency basis.
“We took advanced healthcare to the village level,” he said. “Once you could not think angiogram outside Dhaka; now we have extended it to
government facilities in Chittagong, Barisal, Rangpur, Dinajpur and a few other places”.
He said that, to give drug exports a boost, his government took the initiative to set up a WHO accredited drug-testing laboratory in
Dhaka. “It’ll be completed soon,” he said.
“We have also introduced a tracking system of family planning commodities to prevent any sudden stock outs,” he said and that they
had introduced mobile phone health services in all health facilities.
“Due to our successes,” he said, “we have been awarded twice with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) award and also
with ‘South-South Award’ for e-health services”.
“I was worried when I was assigned the ministry. It’s a huge ministry, huge task, but now I can say I spent some good time,” he said, adding
that he always welcomed criticism that “propelled his work”


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