Public health services almost absent in Bangladesh, says academic

Public health services are “almost absent” in Bangladesh and resource constraint is not to be blamed for that, internationally acclaimed Professor Lawrence O Gostin says.

Published : 6 Jan 2015, 06:49 PM
Updated : 6 Jan 2015, 07:33 PM

Speaking at a reception in his honour on Tuesday in Dhaka, he said it was because “we don’t prioritise this (public health services). We prioritise so many other things”.

Gostin is a University Professor, Georgetown University’s highest academic rank conferred by the University President.

He directs the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and was the Founding O’Neill Chair in Global Health Law.

He is also the writer of the book, ‘Global Health Law’, that Harvard University Press recently published.

Partners in Population and Development (PPD), an inter-governmental alliance of 26 developing countries, hosted the reception, marking the recent launch of his book.

Gostin also signed the book and handed it over to the PPD Executive Director Joe Thomas.

In his book he shows how critical it is for institutions and international agreements to focus not only on illness but also on the essential conditions that enable people to stay healthy throughout their lifespan – nutrition, clean water, mosquito control, and tobacco reduction.

By public health services he meant safe and nutritious food, safe and clean water, mosquito-free environment, proper sanitation, absence of garbage and road safety, which, he said, were “extremely important”.
He said they were necessary for keeping healthy.
“This is not resource constraint. There are fairly low technology solutions to clean water and safe food, and mosquito-free environment,” he said.
In his book, he systematically defines the burgeoning field of global health law.
He wrote the book in the current context where the international community has made great progress in improving global health.
But staggering health inequalities between rich and poor still remain, raising fundamental questions of social justice.
He stressed the need for effective global governance for health and offered a blueprint for reform, based on the principle that “the opportunity to live a healthy life is a basic human right”.
Policies that shape agriculture, trade, and the environment have long-term impacts on health, and Gostin proposes major reforms in global health institutions and governments to ensure better coordination, more transparency, and accountability.
He illustrates the power of global health law with case studies on AIDS, influenza, tobacco, and health worker migration.
He believed that today’s pressing health needs worldwide are a problem not only for the medical profession but also for all citizens.
PPD said it took it as “honour to felicitate the event to acknowledge the academic feat dedicated to the service of the distressed humanity”.
“PPD believes the book would be an important document for the health professional and the health policy makers in Bangladesh”.
Health and population stakeholders were present among others at the reception.