The local pharmaceutical companies, namely, Beximco Pharmaceuticals and Eskeyef deserve Kudos for making available bird flu treatment. Both the companies have come up with drugs to combat bird flu. These drugs do treat the problem with the disease and ease it down but these are not known to be sure bet cure. What the international community is looking for is a vaccine -- and research toward that end is going on in full swing.
The pharmaceutical sector has done so well that the chairman of the Commercial Bank of Ceylone who is expected to keep a close watch on trends in economies of countries where his bank operates mentioned pharmaceuticals as the viable sector and alternative to the garments sector as a foreign exchange earner. We need alternative sources, as the dependency on garments is too much. Pharmaceuticals earned USD$15.72 million in the first eight months of 2005-2006 and the number of countries importing our products stands at 62.
Bangladesh has 235 pharmaceutical companies that meet nearly 97 per cent of the local need. To the great credit of the local entrepreneurs, it can be said to be the only country amongst the 49 Least Developed Countries (LDC's) that has a strong manufacturing base. These 49 countries are all able to duplicate drugs manufactured in the western countries and for this they have no need to adhere to copyright rules.
This means that Bangladesh can export drugs to so many more countries and offer cheap but high quality remakes of life-saving drugs.
We commend the local industry and hope that the government will take note of this progress and give all facilities to the industry so that we make even more progress. The Bangladesh Association for Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI) has put together a list of requests and placed it to the government. The government should look into the requests for assistance and offer all that can be done within the meagre resources that are available with it.
During the ongoing season of viral diseases that summer happens to be, it would be worthwhile also to note here that winter would be coming and bird flu is a matter of concern during winter.
The deadly disease has recently undergone a more serious turn. Within last one month, some people in Indonesia who are relations of bird flu patients, have caught the disease directly from human patients. This is the first known instance of such a human-to-human jump of bird flu. This is a source of serious concern and marks a new chapter in the history of the development of disease and any talk of possibility of an outbreak of bird flu pandemic.
The government of Bangladesh should have a group of people who map and record the developments taking place relating to bird flu both in terms of rise in infections and the strength of the disease to the on-going research to develop bird flu vaccination.
Meanwhile, it would be relevant here, as a review of the developments in the month of July, 2006, to talk about the need for essential developments in female reproductive health that include more doctors and nurses and dedicated departments. Most reproductive health centres are derivatives of family planning centres or the maternity wards.
We need stronger units with experienced staff. The member of such staff will educate women in all issues including recognising different trends of physiological problems, causes for alarm and rectification, hygiene and diet and even operative and post-operative issues that will create awareness among women.
Health and pharmaceutical sector is making vast progress in Bangladesh. The pharmaceutical industry is making strides while newer and modern hospitals are emerging.
Bangladesh is already exporting much needed medicines. We hope that the hospitals that are in the planning stages including the much-awaited ones like the Square Group Hospital and the Continental Hospital being launched by the United Group would also make strides in opening newer sectors for earning name and foreign exchange.
We hope that health tourists, going to countries like Thailand and Singapore, will some day come to Bangladesh. These hospitals should keep such a plan in mind that would include going overseas to attract patients from India, Sri Lanka and other places.
This writer has gone to Calcutta and seen the state of hospitals there. We go to Calcutta because the doctors there are well behaved. But the hospitals those are no match for the ones that are coming up in Bangladesh. We are behind Singapore and Thailand but by not much.
We can match these places in technological facilities and machines of the most modern kind. As far as the behavioural standard of local doctors and members of the supporting staff is concerned, there is a strong need for concerted efforts for improving and upgrading the same.
Apollo Hospitals Dhaka has matched all countries in Asia in bringing the very best machineries and making available facilities for medical tests that are ultra modern. We should make sure that our medical personnel could match other countries in the region in behaviour towards customers who need to be handled with both care and attention.