The government has planned to spend Tk 935.81 billion up to 2022-23 fiscal year starting from the current one for the heath sector development as it is committed to taking healthcare facilities to the doorsteps of people.
The allocation for the current 2020-21 fiscal year is Tk 292.47 billion, while Tk 306.35 billion for 2021-22 fiscal and Tk 336.99 billion for 2022-23 fiscal, shows an official document.
It says the government is committed to providing health services at the doorsteps of people as the government has been working for building a healthy, enthusiastic and proactive population through ensuring quality health services, nutrition, affordable and standard family planning.
There is a plan to set up 250 new community clinics in the current fiscal year. Now, there are 13,812 community clinics across the country providing preliminary healthcare. Forty people, mostly women and children, are receiving medical services every day on average from each of these clinics.
In the mid-term, the document says, the government will give the highest priority to autistic and other people who need special attention.
It mentions that the government will take programmes for ensuring healthcare and other social facilities for them, too.
There will be 'autism and neurodevelopment cell' in all public medical colleges, 'child flourish centres' in all the 116 medical colleges and establishments of 'paediatric neuro-disorder institute' of the country.
Meanwhile, the government has taken initiatives to increase the number of medical universities, colleges and hospitals as part of its plan for the rapid expansion of medical education and development.
In the mid-term plan, the government has taken steps for establishing at least one medical university in each divisional headquarters.
The activities of medical universities in Chattogram, Sylhet and Rajshahi have already started while a process is underway to set up Sheikh Hasina Medical University in Khulna.
There will be new medical colleges in Kushtia, Sirajganj, Manikganj, Jamalpur, Patuakhali, Tangail and Sunamganj as well.
Currently, there are 36 public medical colleges and 70 private medical colleges in addition to six others being run under the Bangladesh Army. In 2009, the number of public medical colleges was 17 while that private medical college 31. And the Bangladesh Army had one medical college in 2009.
The number of seats for MBBS course is now 10,234 -- 4068 in government medical colleges and 6166 in private ones.
The number of government Institute of Health Technologies in the country is now 13 against three in 2009.
The government has taken initiatives to establish three more nursing colleges for the development of nursing education in the country.
In the mid-term, the document shows, the government will give priority to innovation of technology-based medical education and its expansion.
To strengthen cardiovascular, cancer and kidney medicare facilities in the country, the government will set up 100-bed full-fledged cancer treatment units at divisional-level public medical colleges, a 150-bed cardiovascular unit at the National Heart Foundation, while nephrology and kidney dialysis units will be there in all public hospitals at the district level.
The Bhadra and Shalta rivers in Khulna's Dumuria upazila have filled up in just one year after re-excavation that cost Tk 46.25 crore.
However, the authorities blame silt from the upstream and cutting of the Teligati and Tiabunia dams of Kharnia.
There is now little water left in the rivers. Soil kept on the banks after re-excavation was washed away by rain water.
Locals said that the rivers were vibrant even 15 years ago when many people depended on them for livelihood. The rivers also played an important role in economic development.
But a 30km stretch of Bhadra and Shalata were eventually filled with silt. As the rivers started to fill up, illegal encroachment began.
Influential people built houses, rice mills, saw mills, markets, multi-storied buildings and other structures by filling up the river.
This led to the permanent closure of the area’s drainage system. Now even light rains trigger waterlogging, said locals.
According to Khulna Water Development Board (BWDB) sources, a project worth Tk 76.25 crore was approved at the ECNEC meeting in September 2016 for dredging the two rivers. The project implementation period was set for 2018-2019 fiscal year. The works are implemented through tenders in nine packages.
Under the project, an 11.7km stretch from Dighalia to Dumuria Bazar in the southern part of Bhadra River and 9.8km stretch from Teligati to Dumuria Bazar in the northern part were excavated.
Besides, the Shalta River was connected to the Shailmari River by digging a 9km stretch.
‘Gone to waste’
Aminul Islam, a resident of Bamundia village in Dumuria, said soil removed from the rivers was kept on the banks but it was washed away by rain water.
The project was supposed to build two sluice gates at Dighalia and Teligati at a cost of Tk 30 crore, but they were not constructed.
Mofizur Rahman, a resident of Shobhana village in Dumuria, said that river water is not used for agricultural purposes as it is salty now.
“Money spent on dredging the river has gone to waste,” he said. “And the real goal and purpose of river dredging has been ruined.”
Mizanur Rahman, sub-divisional engineer of Khulna BWDB, said river dredging has become regular everywhere. The bill has been paid after all the verifications through the task force.
He insisted that the rivers filled up with silt due to the cutting of Teligati and Tiabunia dams in Kharnia.
It remains unclear if the government plans to dredge the rivers again and reclaimed the encroached land as is being demanded by the locals.
There have been 59 reported incidents of corruption in relief distribution across the country in various projects, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman has said.
“I’ve heard about 59 incidents of relief irregularities, fraud and corruption. We’ve verified them...each of the accused has been arrested, prosecuted and the trial is ongoing. With these measures, corruption or irregularities have marked a fall,” he told UNB.
The State Minister also said the irregularities were identified in projects like open market sale (OMS) of rice at Tk 10 per kg, soybean oil sale from TCB and the VGD food aid programme under the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs.
He said over five crore people have been provided with relief so far.
“From March 26 to June 11, we provided food aid to unemployed people. One crore and 25 lakh families have been added to a database for distributing relief. More than five crore people have received relief support there,” Enamur said.
“One secretary has been assigned to monitor relief distribution in every district. The disaster management committee is working at the district, upazila, union and ward levels with local representatives, MPs, ministers, UP chairmen, Awami League leaders, civil society members and NGO representatives,” the state minister added.
As huge people have been enlisted for relief distribution, there is no scope nepotism or abusing the party identity, he said.
He told UNB that authorities are receiving daily reports from the disaster management committee on the allocation and distribution of relief materials. “So, there’s no chance of corruption there.”
Enamur described the reason behind the prolonged flood, causing waterlogging in three phases.
“Initially, the water level started rising from June 24 and on June 26, water crossed the danger line in seven districts...12 districts were flooded in the first phase. By July 7, the water started receding. Later, in the second phase, 20 districts were flooded. The water level started falling again. In the third phase, 34 districts have been affected by floods so far,” he said.
After receiving information in advance about the floods, the Deputy Commissioners of the soon-to-be affected districts were instructed to get ready to deal with it. “We particularly asked them to prepare shelters and ensure health rules there. As soon as the floods hit, we sent relief materials to the flood-affected districts,” the state minister told UNB.
Authorities have also set up six committees from the ministry to look into disaster management and relief activities.
The state minister said 16,510 metric tonnes of rice and Tk 418,500,000cash have so far been allocated for the flood-victims. “We’ve allocated Tk 1,40,00,000 for the purchase of baby food and Tk 2,08,00,000 for cattle feed. Some 1,72,000 packets of dry food have also been given out.”
Some 300 bundles of corrugated tin-sheet for repairing houses and Tk 9,00,000 for house construction have been given to the flood-affected population alongside providing 1,06,000 metric tons of VGF rice.
Out of 54,73,639 flood-affected people, the minister mentioned, only the extreme poor are presently receiving the aid which is not enough.
Enamur said most of the flood-hit people are not turning up at the shelters. “We’ve opened 1,452 shelters which now accommodate 69,494 people. However, the number of people trapped in the flood waters is over 54 lakh. Not everyone wants to leave home in a bid to protect their belongings,” he said.
It may take till the second week of August for the water to recede from all the flood-hit places.
According to official data, the water level may rise again due to rains towards the end of monsoon although it will not cross the danger level.
The state minister assured all that the flood victims will be rehabilitated as soon as authorities receive the report on damages caused by the floods.
“We’ve decided to keep helping the victims for 14 days even after the water recedes. Corrugated tin-sheet and money will be provided to those whose houses have been damaged.” Enamur added.
Markets of Khulna are being overrun with national fish Hilsa caught from the Bay, since the lifting of a 65-day ban on fishing in the coastal waters was lifted on July 23 Not only the markets - the resulting glut in hilsa means the maach er raja (King of Fish) is even being sold in vans in the alleyways of Khulna at a cheap price.
Hilsa is now being caught in shallow seas, the Andharamanik estuary, Ramnabat estuary and Old Gourango estuary alongside different rivers of Barishal.
Fishermen are bringing these fish from the sea to different fishing grounds of Khulna by trawlers. Some are also bringing them by truck to the wholesale market in Khulna.
Most of the fish are coming to the KCC (Khulna City Corporation) Rupsha Wholesale Fish Market.
This year, schools of hilsa could not come to the river due to numerous submerged chars and have returned to the sea after roaming in the estuaries.
Traders said even though less hilsa is found in the river, they are being caught in large numbers in the sea. These are slightly smaller in size.
Mehedi, a retailer in Rupsha New Market, said, "Lot of hilsas are coming in the market hence prices have also come down. The usual rate of Tk 1,200-1,300 per kg, has reduced to Tk 900-1,000 per kg.”
Abu Musa, proprietor of Madina Fish Traders in KCC Rupsha Wholesale Fish Warehouse, said more hilsa is coming to the market this year than the last and the price is also lower.
He said the price of hilsa caught in sea is Tk 300-350 per kg where each fish weighs 300-400 grams . “The price of each kg of 500 gram Hilsa is Tk 400-450 while the price of a single hilsa weighing one kg is Tk 700-800.”
On the other hand, 300-400 gram size of hilsa caught in rivers cost Tk 350-450 per kg and the price of one kg of 500 gram size is Tk 450-550.
“Each river hilsha weighing one kg costs Tk 800-900. The price of river hilsa is a bit higher as it tastes better than the sea,” Musa added.
Molayapota evening market Fish Traders’ Association President Ashek said more fish have been coming since Eid-ul-Adha. “At present most fish are from the sea and are slightly smaller in size. But fish caught in the river are also coming.”
Loads of fish are coming to markets of Khulna every day by fishing boat. Buyers are happy with the low price which will go down further.
The government considers enhancing the skills of the country’s capable population and their productivity to fulfill the demand of the labour markets, both at home and abroad, aiming to face the adverse impact of COVID-19 that devastated the national economy.
Some 1.2 crore Bangladeshi people are engaged in various jobs in 178 countries across the globe, according to an official document.
In the last 10 years, 66,33,000 professional, skilled, semiskilled and unskilled people went to various countries taking various jobs, which is 60 percent of the total employment abroad.
But the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have badly affected the foreign job market and the government is continuing its diplomatic efforts to save their jobs.
Besides, the prolonged government-sponsored holidays in the country that had started in the last week of March also cast a serious impact on the job market in the country.
According to an estimate of the Asian Development Bank, some 1.4 million Bangladeshis have lost their jobs.
Bangladesh enjoys a facility of demographic dividend as a huge capable population is included in the total population each year.
Against this backdrop, the government has already announced stimulus packages of Tk 1.03 trillion or different sectors from RMG to agriculture to keep up the high economic growth and create more jobs for the capable population.
As per the government document, the government has taken various programmes with assistance from development partners to skill up the manpower so that they could get better jobs bot at home and abroad.
The World Bank on June 19 approved financing the Second Programmatic Jobs Development Policy Credit to provide some US$ 250 million to Bangladesh as development policy credit.
The project aims to support Bangladesh government’s reform programme to address the country’s job challenges by modernising the trade and investment environment, strengthening systems that protect workers and build resilience and improving policies and programmes that enhance access to jobs for vulnerable populations, especially during the pandemic.
The Programmatic Jobs Development Policy Credit is aimed at supporting Bangladesh to develop a stronger policy and institutional framework to address barriers to creating more jobs for citizens, including women, youths and the vulnerable population.
To promote large-scale employment in diverse manufacturing sectors, the reform programme will help improve the investment environment, lift barriers to doing business, and modernize customs and trade facilitation. The programme will also help implement amendments to the labour law and reform the pensions programme to make sure workers are protected.
Another programme titled ‘Skills for Employment Investment Programm’ (SEIP) for providing market-responsive skill training through partnerships with public institutes, industry associations and other organisations, covering skill requirements in 10 industry sectors is also going on, according to the document.
Under this programme of Finance Division, some 841,680 youths will be trained to develop their skills which will be helpful for them to get jobs at home and abroad. Some 428,000 youths have already got their training while some 248,000 have been appointed in the jobs.
Youth Development Department is implementing a project called National Service Programme, under which youths are receiving training and being engaged in temporary jobs.
The government has also activated National Skills Development Authority for coordinating government's various skill development activities.
The government also formed National Human Resource Development Fund for ensuring smooth financing for skill development prgrammes.