Improving Patient Care in Bangladesh: a piece by Golam Mostofa and Sukumar Chakrabortty

January 29, 2015
GHDI alumns in Bangladesh

Golam Mostofa, MBA, Director of Project and Research, and Sukumar Chakrabortty, MBA, Program Coordinator and Finance Director are 2014 GHDI graduates both are employed by Dhaka Community Hospital Trust.

This post is an adaptation of an original piece by Golam Mostofa Sukumar Chakrabortty.

Bangladesh is a young country, gaining its independence in 1971. Since independence, poverty and political turmoil have greatly challenged the development of the country, particularly health care. Bangladesh has one of the highest population densities in the world, and providing health care to all who need it is a major concern. The  government of Bangladesh aims to ensure the quality of treatment for patients, but is limited by the intense need and low-resources. Private hospitals are working to make up for the government shortfall by creating strong public health initiatives.

Community gathering

Local community health gathering.Photo courtesy of Golam Mostofa and Sukumar Chakrabortty.

We work in health care delivery management, specifically managing research and finance, for the Dhaka Community Hospital Trust (DCH). DCH is a trust‐owned private, non‐profit and self‐financed organization that provides health care services for low‐income populations throughout Bangladesh. Since its inception in 1988, DCH has successfully introduced a health insurance model that finances high quality, appropriate health care services at a low cost, and is actively involved in strengthening the health care system in Bangladesh.

Many of our initiatives at DCH deal with identifying and treating the health effects of the arsenic‐poisoning epidemic in Bangladesh. Lead poisoning remains a major public health problem, and several epidemiological investigations have shown a high prevalence of elevated blood lead concentrations among Bangladeshi children living in large urban and industrial centers (Kaiser et al., 2001; Mitra et al., 2012; Mitra et al., 2009). Children in rural Bangladeshi communities may also be at risk of exposure to lead through the continued use of leaded gasoline in rural areas (Mitra et al., 2012), poorly developed waste management systems and cottage industries that are increasingly found in rural settings. We partner with international NGOs like Mercy Malaysia and the Arsenic Foundation and collaborate with academic centers around the world, including the Harvard School of Public Health, Oregon State University and the University Sains Malaysia.

GHDI cohort

Sukumar and Golam (back row, first and second from left) with GHDI classmates on a weekend outing in Boston. Photo courtesy of Golam Mostofa.

We completed the Global Health Delivery Intensive program at Harvard University as it was not only crucial for our personal growth and self development, but also for advancing our work. During GHDI we took courses in Epidemiologic Methods for Global Health, a case‐based Introduction to Global Health Care Delivery, and Value‐Based Management in Global Health Care Delivery. The program allowed us to improve the capacity of DCH in the Health Service & Management sector and in other sustainable community based health care programs in Bangladesh.

In our country, we see that the harmful effects of lead are exacerbated by poor nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, also highly prevalent in rural areas. We are researching the distribution of blood levels among young children in two rural Bangladeshi settings and assessing the associations between lead concentrations and socio-demographic factors. We are applying lessons from GHDI directly and have gained a broader perspective on how DCH’s health care delivery system can be strengthened.