An important determinant of the quality of the labor force is
access to health services. But this variable is not easy to measure and the data
are often unreliable or at best indicative. Statistics on the population with
access to health services in Bangladesh suggests that the ratio declined sharply
between 1980 and 1988 to just 38 percent before rebounding to 74 percent in 1991
(table 13). In comparison, access in Pakistan rose substantially to 85 percent.
Although the absolute percentages probably contain a fair amount of noise,
medical services are certainly scarce in Bangladesh. Still, it is difficult to
believe that Bangladesh is much worse off then Zambia and Zaire in this respect.
Looking at the population per physician balances the picture (table 14). With a
ratio of close to 1:7000 between 1986 and 90, Bangladesh is on par with
Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Data on health expenditures also points to substantial
improvement between 1983 and 1993 although as a percent of GDP it is still
modest. The rural population in Bangladesh probably enjoys the same access as
that in Indonesia, but in Sri Lanka medical services in smaller towns are better