Vol. 5 Num 1124 Sun. July 29, 2007  
Star City

Urban Primary Health Care Project
Something for DCC to cheer about

While Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) is failing on most counts, it can retrieve some comfort from the successful implementation of the multi-million dollar Urban Primary Health Care Project (UPCHP), a maiden initiative of the Local Government, Rural Develop-ment and Cooperatives ministry.

In the first quarter of the year, it has already provided about 1 million medical services at minimum cost to city dwellers, especially to the hardcore poor.

According to the project register, on an average, about 40 lakh people in Dhaka are annually getting comprehensive medical care from the 63 Primary Health Centres and 10 Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Centres under the UPCHP.

The first phase of the project started in 1998 and ended in June 2006. The second phase, which is now in progress, will continue till December 2011.

"During the first phase, the project provided 2,03,55,953 quality clinical services to people at minimum cost," said Jamal A Naser Chowdhury, project director of the 2nd UPCHP.

The first phase of the project was completed at a cost of US$ 60 million while the second phase is worth US$ 90 million, he said. In the course of time, the project has extended its coverage throughout the country.

Under the project, people get services through two ways: health centre-oriented service and satellite session outreach. The latter was launched in 2000. Various colour cards were enacted for charging the patients. Red card with one-year validity is for people who earn below Tk 2000 per month, and they are provided with health services free of cost.

People whose income is between Tk 3000 and Tk 4000 get green cards with one year validity, with which they can receive every kind of health services at only 30% commission at the centres.

"Besides Dhaka, we are operating in other divisional cities and 5 municipalities across the country. There are 10 partnership zones in Dhaka. Each zone consists of 5 to 7 Primary Health Centres, one pharmacy and one Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Centre," said Chowdhury.

The services available at the centres are counselling on reproductive health, antenatal care, both normal and caesarean delivery, post-natal care, immunisation for children and women, child care, clinical and non clinical family planning methods, treatments of different communicative diseases, general health care, clinical and non-clinical family planning and pathological lab.

The project director claimed that consistent monitoring of the project implementation kept things running smoothly. He added that the money collected from the patients would be used for the sustainability of the services after the end of the second phase of the project at 2011.

"I am pregnant, so I come here twice a month for checking. I am very satisfied with the cleanliness, low cost and quality services of this centre," said Achhiya Khatun, who arrived in the evening session at a Primary Health Centre in Arambagh Residential Area under section 7, Mirpur.

The centre was charging her much less than any other medical or diagnostic centre in the area, she said. "A general MBBS doctor demands at least Tk 60 as fee for a single consultation, while I am paying only Tk 20 here. Most of the treatments are free here and they even provide free medicines on some Fridays," she added.

She said for her delivery, she would definitely come to the centre because of its low cost, and her confidence on its services.

"For normal delivery cases, the health centres charge Tk 600, including the cost of medicines, whereas other clinics charge a minimum of Tk 2000 without medicine for such service," said Dr. Kazi Nurun Nabi, project manager of Pragati Samaj Kallayan Protisthan, a partner of the project implementing authority.

For caesarean delivery cases the health centres charge only Tk 6,000 including price of medicine compared to charges of Tk 15,000 and Tk 20,000 at other clinics, he informed.

"We try our very best not to turn away any patient without treatment and we always try to give them the best service, around the clock," he said.

At least 200 patients come to each health centre daily, he estimated and said, "Keeping the centre clean and behaving cordially with patients is our key object. As a result, the patients who visit our clinic once don't go to other hospitals or clinics for health services," he added.

Marie Stopes Clinic near Gausia is one of the centres providing urban primary health care. PHOTO: STAR