KALIAKAR, 23 February 2012 (IRIN) - Recent mobile phone initiatives in Bangladesh are allowing patients to reach a health worker for advice at no cost 24 hours a day, receive prenatal care reminders and even send complaints about patient care.
“It is difficult to manage doctors for [a national population of] 140 million people. We are using mobile phone service to bridge this treatment gap, “Abul Kalam Azad, a senior official at the Directorate General of Health Services, told IRIN.
Close to 60 percent of the population - some 85 million people - use mobile phones in Bangladesh, according to a December 2011 report from the country’s telecommunications regulatory commission.
Cut off from formal medical care, some patients turn to untrained or “fake” doctors, leading to fatal remedies, said Azad, who wants to counter this trend with sound health advice.
Since 2009, the government has provided cell phones to 482 sub-district and district government hospitals, which are used as