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Thursday, October 9, 2014, Ashwin 24, 1421, Zilhajj 13, 1435 Hijr

Alternative medicare on snail's back
Publish Date : 2014-10-09,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 19
The Alternative Medical Care (AMC) has progressed the least during the first three years of the ongoing five-year health sector development programme of the government, a review finds.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare came up with the Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Programme (HPNSDP) in 2011, setting some specific targets to be achieved by 2016.
Targets were set for popularising AMC comprising Homeopathy, Unani and Ayurvedic forms of medicare.
But a mid-term review of the HPNSDP found "poor progress" in achieving those AMC targets.
The preliminary results of the review, disseminated among the health officials last week, found those targets had " hardly" been achieved.
The progress report rated individual department's progress of the entire health sector in four categories ---- good progress, progress, limited progress, and poor progress.
Dr Gour Moni Sinha, Line Director of the AMC wing of the HPNSDP', acknowledged the review report and said there had been "no allocations" to reach those targets.
"The allocations have been made only for salaries and routine expenditure (in AMC sector)," he told
Homeopathic, Yunani and Ayurvedic are mostly popular among rural Bangladeshis as they provide affordable option of medicare.
Only after the government signed a? MoU with India last month to improve training, research and education in homeopathy did the issue come to the fore again.
The WHO also lays importance on this type of medicine.
The UN agency's regional meeting in Dhaka last month had 'traditional medicines' on its agenda and highlighted need to improve its quality and discussed other issues related to it .
One of the targets under the HPNSDP was to bring at least 30 percent of the hospital's outpatients under the coverage of alternative medicines.
The number of facilities offering the alternative medicare was also supposed to be increased along with the promotion of this type of medicine across Bangladesh.
But the review found the targets had not been reached.
No progress has been made in preparing pharmacopeia and formularies for  preparing ayurvedic and homeopathy drugs to ensure quality, according to the report.
Herbal gardens have not been established as targeted.
The review suggested strengthening the regulatory bodies in view of the fact that many providers were "deceiving unsuspecting patients through unethical advertisements and malpractices".
It also suggested that current laws "be reviewed and modified to take care of all relevant issues".
The Line Director Dr Sinha said the targets had not been carefully drafted in 2011.
"There was no proper scrutiny when targets were fixed and that's why no funds had been made available to implement them," he said.
He said the AMC wing was not strong enough before 2011 to properly analyse and set targets.
He, however, said they had recently written to the ministry for a special allocation to launch campaign in the grassroots using community clinics.
He said the target had been set to increase coverage of hospitals' outpatient department by alternative medicines though there was no such doctor in every hospital.
"We had recruited 198 Homeopathy, Unani and Ayurvedic doctors only last month," he said, "before that we had only 45 doctors (15 from each area) in 45 district hospitals," he said.
The Line Director said they had advertised to appoint more in coming months.
He said some progress would be made in coming months as the government now appeared serious.
A BIMSTEC, Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, conference on Yunani and Ayurvedic medicine is expected to be held in the first week of Dec in Dhaka, he said.
"I think from next year's budget we'll get some funds for the development of this sector".
"We are planning to post the new recruits at upazilla level," he said.
He, however, said they found less interest among people to join alternative medical care as the job still remained contractual under the project.
He said they would also appoint gardeners to establish herbal gardens in the hospital premises.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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