Six years ago, my mother was hospitalized at one of Bangladesh’s top hospitals for a basic operation. We expected that the routine procedure would go smoothly, yet she suffered such dramatic complications that we nearly lost her. The most harrowing part of the experience was the doctor’s cavalier attitude. On my mother’s worst day, my sister and I desperately needed to understand why our mother was vomiting bile, but the doctor ignored our queries and walked out of the room. I distinctly remember chasing him up two flights of stairs to demand answers to our simple questions. His indifference to our mother’s suffering made us feel completely helpless. Eventually, our family had no choice but to take my mother to Bangkok, where she had a second surgery. A year later, she had to have a third surgery, all because of complications arising from the original operation.
Like most Bangladeshis, I could share dozens of other shocking incidents like this one, experienced by my own family in private health facilities.
I am an American by birth and Bangladeshi by blood. I studied international law and international development at top universities in the United States. My passion for development and impact was inspired by my visits to Bangladesh growing up and led me to a rewarding career in New York City and beyond. For the past 15 years, I have worked to ensure human rights and justice for individuals all over the world, through the private and public sectors, at international law firms and global organizations.
After my mother’s experience, I spent a great deal of time thinking about the tremendous need to revolutionize the health sector in Bangladesh. I wanted to be part of that revolution.
So, I moved to Bangladesh to found Praava Health.
Proper healthcare is our basic human right. Every patient deserves to be treated with care and respect. My own experience, and yours, compelled me to imagine health centers in Bangladesh where professionalism, expertise, and trust between physician and patient are not luxuries of the lucky few, but rights and realities for every citizen.
The Praava team is building a health system where patients come first – an outpatient network of health centers with family doctors as well as quality, reliable diagnostics. Because 80-90% of all health care needs can be addressed by a family doctor, Praava’s family doctors’ unit will be the first point of entry for our patients. Praava Health will feature a group practice of family physicians, including a gynecologist and a pediatrician, as well as a nutritionist and a physical therapist. To accommodate patients who may need to see specialists, Praava will have a floor of visiting specialists within our health center.
Proper care depends on accurate diagnosis. The diagnostics services we will offer in-house will include basic and advanced pathology, including Bangladesh’s first molecular cancer diagnostics lab in certain cancers like breast, cervical, and colon cancer; and basic and advanced imaging, including X-ray, ultra-sonogram, DXA (bone marrow density), CT, and MRI scans. Praava will maintain international standards for these facilities and plans to obtain international accreditation.
There is a fundamental power imbalance between the doctor – who has the medical knowledge to understand what is happening in the body – and the patient – who is suffering, but may not understand why. It is the responsibility of the doctor to alleviate that inequality by providing compassionate care. Every patient should be treated with dignity and feel confident that their health concerns will be taken seriously and addressed appropriately.
Consistently, we hear patients complain that the biggest problem with health care in Bangladesh is a lack of trust. In fact, patients actually feel better when their doctors spend time getting to know them. “Patient-centered care” actually improves patients’ clinical outcomes and satisfaction by enhancing the quality of the doctor-patient relationship, while at the same time decreasing overall health care costs and wastefulness of diagnostic testing, prescriptions, hospitalizations, and referrals. Patient-centered care is a holistic approach to health care. It goes beyond educating patients about their diagnosis and potential treatments by involving them in key decisions about their health, taking into account their personal circumstances and preferences. Patient-centered care requires open communication and consideration of patients’ cultural traditions, personal preferences and values, family situations, social circumstances, and lifestyles. It demands every doctor get to know every patient personally.
It is this notion of patient-centered care that Praava is bringing to Bangladesh. We aim to be your partner in health. There are many medical professionals in Bangladesh who share these values, and we are actively bringing some of them onto our team to help achieve our vision. (Please email us if you’d like to join us!)
When I cut the ribbon for our first Praava facility, I will be thinking of that day when I ran up two flights of stairs to ask a doctor a simple question. And I will be looking forward to a whole new kind of care for my family, and for yours – high quality, affordable services and diagnostics that bring trust, reliability, and accountability to our healthcare system.
Welcome to a new concept of healthcare in Bangladesh. I hope to see you soon at Praava’s first health center, launching in Dhaka in 2017.