Health experts at a discussion here on Thursday said adoption of the right technology in Bangladesh’s health sector can make healthcare services more affordable and accessible as the country has limited human resources despite having huge population.
They also said doctors and engineers need to work together for the effective digitisation of the health sector and improving its services.
The experts also hoped that artificially intelligent robot doctors will be able to play a significant role in bringing a revolution in healthcare services by 2035 when doctors and robots will work together for taking a collective decision.
The health experts made the remarks at a discussion titled ‘Transformation of Healthcare in Digital Space and its Future’ at the Digital World-2017 at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the city.
The ICT Division in collaboration with Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) organised the exposition.
Prof Dr Khondoker Al Mamun of United International University presented the keynote paper at the programme.
In his presentation, Mamun said non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases, are now a major concern for Bangladesh and as huge numbers of people are dying because of those. “These diseases are so prevalent here because of massive urbanisation, changing our lifestyle and food habit, and the unhealthy food we consume every day.”
He said it is predicted that Bangladesh will be one of the seven largest diabetic patient countries in the world by 2030. “Non-communicable diseases like hypertension lead to cardiovascular disease and heart attack, and the solution to the disease is to take preventive measure… 90 percent stroke, 80 percent heart attack and 70 percent diabetes are preventable only by leading a healthy life.”
“Technology adaption is another solution to reduce the disease and ensure healthcare for all. If we adopt the right technology, we’ll be able to handle such diseases. Technology can give us proper health service regulation. It’ll reduce the gap between urban and rural healthcare facilities and make our healthcare services more affordable and secure. It’ll increase productivity as well,” Mamun observed.
“Healthcare digitisation system, health medical record, mobile healthcare apps and risk prediction model are necessary to improve our healthcare services and make it easily accessible,” he said.
Mamun said, “We need patients’ digital health record so that any doctor from any place can see it.”
He said artificial intelligence can also play a significant role in bringing a revolution in healthcare services. “Yesterday (Wednesday), we saw Sophia, a social robot which can only interact with people. But in the future, we’ll have medical robots that will give us opinion like a doctor analysing health records. It’s predicted that by 2035, robot will be very stronger, and they’ll be able to work alongside doctors and help them take a collective decision,” he added.
Director General of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Prof Abul Kalam Azad said they are working for transforming the health sector into digital one. “We’ve appointed our work forces who are analogue in nature, but we cannot keep them out right now. We’ll have to transform them and we’re doing it.”
He said the private sector can play a vital role in digitising the healthcare sector.
Mentioning that non-communicable disease is very high in Bangladesh, he said: “It’s one of the major causes of huge economic loss in the country.”
Prof Azad urged the innovators to develop effective apps and technology to deal with non-communicable diseases and made the health services more affordable and easily accessible.
World Health Organization consultant Muhammad Abdul Hannan Khan said it is a big challenge for Bangladesh to ensure better healthcare service as it has 16 crore population and poor socio-economic condition. “We can overcome the challenge to a large extent with the help of technology.”
He also said private-public partnership also can help intensify the government efforts of digitising healthcare services.
Hannan also emphasised changing the culture of Bangladesh traditional healthcare services and changing the attitude of patients and doctors.