Better medicare with better nurses

Int’l seminar stresses development of nursing education, upgrade of profession
Improvement of healthcare services requires development of nursing education as per international standards, and upgrade of the profession.
Despite a huge demand for qualified and skilled nurses at home and abroad, the profession is still not well regarded in Bangladesh. Apart from a general change in mindset, nurses should be given increased remuneration for their social recognition.
This was the unanimous view of speakers at an international seminar in the capital yesterday.
The speakers stressed the need for enhancing the nurses and other healthcare professionals’ proficiency in English to fulfil the domestic needs and also to make the most of the growing global demand for them.
The seminar titled “ESL and social media for professionals: Focus on global health education” was jointly organised by International Medical College (IMC) and Kean University, New Jersey, USA, and held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre. The Daily Star was the event’s media partner.
Speaking at the seminar, Commerce Minister Ghulam Muhammed Quader said an acute shortage of qualified nurses, medical technologists and paramedics in the country was impeding quality healthcare services.
Bangladeshi nurses have the potential to work abroad, but they need to be proficient in English first, he added.
Prime minister’s Health Adviser Syed Modasser Ali said about 70 percent of the success in preventing communicable diseases in the country was the result of awareness campaigns in the media.
The government asked all medical colleges to introduce nursing courses considering the need for qualified nurses, he said.
National Professor Shahla Khatun, chairperson of International Medicare Ltd (IML), said social recognition was a problem of the nursing profession since its formal inception in the mid-50s.
Although the situation has improved significantly, steps taken by the government and non-government organisations in this regard are not sufficient, and more practical approaches are needed, she observed.
“Our plans should focus more on educating nurses and improving their status,” said Shahla.
Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, said every effort to promote healthcare in Bangladesh must be lauded and supported highly.
“Public knowledge about health issues and problems, in a way, is as important as expanding the facilities,” he said, adding that some basic healthy habits could transform a nation’s health status.
Underlining the need for expanding nursing education in the country, he said though most hospitals abroad have a doctor-nurse ratio of around 1:12, the situation in Bangladesh is quite different.
Mahfuz Anam also noted that nurses are not underestimated in the rural areas, rather it is the rich and elite in the capital who do not give the nurses the recognition they deserve.
To fight this stigma, he added, upgrading the nursing profession is essential alongside awareness campaigns.
IMC Chairman Major Gen (retd) M Abdur Rab said health professionals with inadequate proficiency in English face communication barriers, especially while working abroad.
“Keeping that in mind, IMC introduced ESL (English as a Second Language) and TOEFL courses for MBBS and nursing students,” he said.
In a presentation, Michael Searson, executive director, School of Global Education and Innovation, Kean University, highlighted different features of social media and mobile devices that facilitate healthcare services.
The other speakers included Prof SAM Khairul Bashar, chairman of international advisory board of IMC; Faruque Ahmed Chowdhury, director, human resources of Kean University; and MA Mubin Khan, deputy managing director of IML.

-With The Daily Star input

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