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China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have expressed their willingness to establish international standard hospitals in Bangladesh on the model of Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Thailand’s Bumrungrad Hospital.

The countries have sent proposals to Bangladesh in this regard and sought land for their respective projects in the adjacent area of Dhaka.

China is willing to establish hospitals in divisional and district towns if land is not available in Dhaka’s vicinity, but Turkey and Saudi sought lands near Dhaka.

It is yet to be confirmed how many hospitals would be constructed or if the Bangladesh government would be able to give them land.

Officials from the health ministry and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) said the government is now assessing the proposals.

The three countries, in their respective proposals, said they have sent the proposals keeping in mind a huge number of Bangladeshi patients who go abroad every year for treatment. They sent the proposals during the prevalence of coronavirus.

Confirming the matter, officials from the health ministry and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) said the government is now assessing the proposals.

BIDA executive chairman Sirazul Islam told Prothom Alo, “Bangladesh has longstanding relations with Turkey. They have shown their interest in constructing a hospital in Bangladesh as they want to strengthen the bilateral ties. Engineering Dimension of Saudi Arabia and China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) of China have sent separate proposals to build hospitals in Bangladesh. We’ve forwarded the proposals to the health ministry.”

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CMEC China’s proposal said they want to construct one hospital each at a divisional or district level. They want to construct hospitals with 50 thousand beds in total in Bangladesh. They want to construct hospitals on the lines of Mount Elizabeth and Bumrungrad hospitals.

Treatment costs in their hospitals would be much less than the international standard hospitals, the China CMEC’s proposal said.

An inter-ministerial meeting was held in Bangladesh Secretariat on 20 October which discussed the feasibility of Chinese company’s proposal in detail

The proposed hospitals would be fully online. A total of 70 per cent physicians and nurses would be recruited from Bangladesh while the remaining 30 per cent would be taken from abroad, the proposal said adding that they would establish a training institute for physicians, nurses and technicians.

We have discussed the proposal of CMEC China. The proposal needs further study. We will take detailed information from them
Saidur Rahman, additional secretary

CMEC thinks that the number of outbound patients from Bangladesh would decrease if international standard hospitals are established in the country.

An inter-ministerial meeting was held in Bangladesh Secretariat on 20 October which discussed the feasibility of Chinese company’s proposal in detail.

Saidur Rahman, additional secretary of health services division of the health ministry, told Prothom Alo, “We have discussed the proposal of CMEC China. The proposal needs further study. We will take detailed information from them.”

Prime minister’s principal secretary Ahmed Kaikaus, at a programme in the city recently said around Tk 300 billion flies out of the country as medical expenses annually. This huge amount of money would have remained in Bangladesh if the healthcare system were of good quality.

According to different estimations, around 250,000-300,000 Bangladeshi patients travel abroad for treatment every year. A big chunk of these patients go to India.

BIDA’s executive chairman Sirazul Islam said, “The proposals from three countries are an opportunity for us but we have shortage of land.”

* The report, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Galib Ashraf

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