Community clinics act as ‘silver lining’ in coastal Bangladesh

The community clinic is like a silver lining for the coastal population plagued by salinity. There was a time when the marginalised people had to accept living with diseases and ailments due to lack of primary healthcare. But the scenario has changed.

They now have a community clinic to rush to where they can get 32 types of medications for free. Community clinics are playing a very important role in helping people fight the situation.

“Of the average 35 patients on a day to day basis, nearly 15-20 have diarrhoeal disease.”

Merazul Islam, CHCP- Cowkimoni Community Clinic, Koyra, Khulna

More than 70 per cent of the total health care service recipients- from the community clinics in coastal district Khulna, suffer from diarrhoeal disease, according to data preserved by five community clinics and upazila health complex in the area.

Skin diseases come second followed by malnutrition suffered by pregnant mothers. Increasing salinity and scarcity of pure drinking water is responsible for this. Climate change impacts are making things worse in the coastal belt.

Diarrhea is a waterborne disease. Most people have no access to safe drinking water since the underground and surface water sources are affected by salinity.

In the last 35 years, salinity has encroached nearly 27% of the coastal regions. At the same time, surface and underground water sources have been affected.

The adverse effects of climate change would further worsen the scenario. Community clinics can play a major role in tackling that future. But they would need modernization.

Photo credits: GM Mostafizul Alam

Each community clinic has one Community Health Care Provider (CHCP) whose educational qualifications ranges from HSC to undergraduate degrees. They get a three-month basic training and are assisted by a health assistant and a family welfare assistant.

“We need more training and better medicines. Especially, the supply of diarrhoeal disease medication will have to be increased.”

Umme Honey, CHCP-Botul Bazar Community Clinic, Koyra, Khulna

The chairman of the community clinic’s trustee board said they will act soon considering the circumstances.

Prof. Dr. Syed Modasser Ali, Chairman, Community Clinic Health Support Trusty Board- “Since the problems and ailments are different in the coastal regions due to salinity, we will consider that and take steps to send medicine soon. Trainings should also be more area-specific. We will also do that.”

Along with that, if safe drinking water in these areas is insured, then the adverse effects of climate change can be tackled to an extent.

GM Mostafizul Alam is a Dhaka based journalist works at Channel24 as a Senior Reporter . He can be reached