Innovations in community physiotherapy
02 Mar 2009
MPT Senior Consultant, Gonoshasthaya Kendra and Head & Associate Professor, Gono Bishwabidyalay, Bangladesh
In the last 35 years, Bangladesh has produced only 415 physiotherapists to meet the demands of a total population of 150 million. Most of them practice in the capital city of Dhaka because of better business prospects. The need to formulate an innovative strategy to meet the huge demand is obvious.
According to a World Bank report (2005), 44% (poor) and 33% (very poor) people approach local pharmacists or medicine sellers for their ailments due to poor accessibility to healthcare facilities and also to avoid consultation fees.
Due to scarcity in the number of professionals, community physiotherapists have become popular with rural patients. They use innovative treatment approaches, which combines traditional Physiotherapy and ancient Ayurvedic massage. Targeting equitable access to all, Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK) has its own health insurance policy. The fee is determined by the socio-economic status of the patient.
Experienced paramedics are now able to administer treatment without direct supervision all the time. The number of patients seen by them is multiplying at a fascinating rate every year due to the growing recognition of their work.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK) was established in 1972 and provides primary health care to a rural population of over 1.08 million across 629 villages in Bangladesh. The strategies and methods adopted by Gonoshasthaya Kendra in bridging the gap and promoting community physiotherapy by training health workers or "paramedics'' in Bangladesh, has been successful. Even though training of many more paramedics is required, success is guaranteed.