Health Care Service and the Bitter Reality: Bangladesh Perspective -Niaz Ahmod


Since the early period of our life, we have been knowing there are five fundamental human rights. Food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care. Nevertheless, these are not fundamental rights of a citizen. These are basic necessities of human life- which is stated in the third part of the constitution. Health care, be it basic requirements or something else we want the service. However in today’s time many people badly need it. General people can hardly afford such basic necessities like health care. Now the question arises, when do we need medical care? Obviously the time when we get sick. This provides a food for thought, why do we fall sick? What is health or state of well-being? There are many determinants of our sickness. Food, environment and what not. Food is one of the most important determinants. Now it is one of our major concerns.
A few days ago a study was published in Nature Journal- “Researchers found alarming levels of multi-drug resistant bacteria or strongest antibiotic resistant superbug in chickens of five markets in Dhaka. Researchers think as a result of this, the risk of antibiotic resistant in public health is increasing. For this reason, vital medicines are not working properly in human bodies and becoming ineffective against serious diseases. In this research cloacal swab of 500 broiler and layer chickens and 50 common sewage lines water samples were tested from 5 chickens markets of Dhaka”.
In this research conducted in Bangladesh Agricultural University, multi-drug resistant salmonella bacteria, E.coli and s.aureus was found in the collected chicken sample. Md. Taohidul Islam, the lead researcher, professor at Bangladesh Agricultural University population medicine and AMR laboratory told, “The presence of multi-drug resistant bacteria in chickens poses a serious threat to public health. If the chickens are not cooked properly, the bacteria could enter in and affect our body and make us sick”. According to the research, these market sell around 5,000 –10,000 chickens per day to retail markets, super shops, hotels, restaurants and community centres throughout Dhaka.
Chickens liquid wastes such as blood, waste water mixed with dropping are drained into Buriganga. This water flows past the southwest outskirts of Dhaka. On the other hand, solid wastes are disposed into the city corporation dustbin. It was even mentioned in the research that the solid wastes are sold to fish farmers in karwan Bazar.
A food for thought. Are we, the people residing in or outside Dhaka totally sure that the poultry chickens we are having are free from multi-drug resistant bacteria? Is there any point that can help us to be sure? That means we are consuming superbug unconsciously. And the antibiotics are becoming ineffective gradually. As many as 67% of the available and widely used antibiotics are not working properly in the human body. We are having poultry chickens even after knowing it all. But why? The reason is its cheap price. Market price controls our preference to a great extent.
Recently, Zakir Hossain, professor at Bangladesh Agricultural University has detected the presence of heavy metal in eggplant which is seriously harmful to public health. Whereas eggplant is our favourite food. As we all know heavy metals cause cancer in the human body, food containing heavy metals has been banned. But the matter of unfortunate is that rice, lentils, vegetables, fish, meat- everything has the presence of heavy metals.
Mixing chemicals including urea, formalin in fish and making it toxic just to gain business profit. We can hardly get chemical free fish in the markets. The uses of harmful chemicals aren’t getting stopped. Chemicals are also being mixed in vegetables. In the retail market formalin or water mixed chemicals were being sprayed on fish in public. Now because of the authority’s restrictions no one takes the risk of using chemical mixed water in public. Formalin is now being used in fish right after fetching. Formalin is typically injected into comparatively big fresh fish. And small fishes are preserved by dipping them in formalin mixed water. Though the businessman don’t accept the fact of using formalin in fish it is often seen to use excess formalin in fish in most of the markets in Shoarighat, Puran Dhaka. In the storehouse formalin mixed ice are being used in fishes in fancy way. These ice cubes are made from formalin mixed water. Fishes are kept all day long in these formalin mixed ice.
There are thousands of examples like this. We hear, see and talk about it but don’t abide by the laws. As a result, different types of cancer, liver cirrhosis, liver failure, heart failure etc are increasing. We can see a long line of patients to specialist doctors every day. Diseases that are caused by food adulteration are allergy, asthma, skin disease, nausea, headache, food poisoning, distaste, hypertension, brain stroke, kidney failure, heart attack etc. The reasons behind these sufferings are food adulteration, our disobedience, lack of awareness and ignorance. That’s why in the past many races had to face difficult consequences.
Western Roman Empire made food and instruments, water pipe and many transportation with lead. With the passage of time, women ability to give birth decreased and children had mental retardation. Possibly for this reason Roman Empire was easily destroyed. The Roman Empire that disappeared with time is now just a story. And we? Are we going to face the same consequences like Roman Empire in future? Let’s know another information. There are 60-70 cancer patients in every village of Punjab in Pakistan. The number of cancer patients in Bangladesh is also increasing. We often hear stories of cancer death patients. That day is not far when we will get to see cancer patients in every house. In a family two persons out of four will be cancer patient. Is it really true? No, we just can make an assumption. But our ignorance, food adulteration, many other wrong deeds say that our future is in darkness.
With this poor infrastructure of our country, who will take the responsibility to give proper treatment to the people who are getting sick? We fall sick because of our own mistakes. But we cannot consciously push our future generations into unimaginable horrors. Now is the time for change. Say no to all misdeeds including adulteration, addition of extra chemicals in food. Let the health sector infrastructure be improved and our health services be guaranteed.
May people be pure, may all human souls be pure.
The author of this article is a student of Institute of Health Economics, University of Dhaka.