Tuesday, 18 June, 2024, Reg No- 06
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Skilled optometrists can help bolster our remittances

Published : Sunday, 26 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 254

Skilled optometrists can help bolster our remittances

Skilled optometrists can help bolster our remittances

Bangladesh is considered as a resourceful country of a huge labour-force. About 60 million people constitute this vast reservoir of active manpower; Bangladesh is steadily turning her manpower into an asset through training and skill development with a view to meeting the needs of overseas employment.

It is not possible for Bangladesh to absorb the full range of available less-skilled, semiskilled, skilled and professional manpower within the country in an appropriate manner and hence it is needed to find employment opportunities abroad.

There are also a number of foreign countries who are in need of importing manpower from other countries. Overseas employment from Bangladesh started officially in 1976 with a modest number (6,078) of workers. Presently about 7.5m Bangladeshi migrants are working all over the world. Yearly migration from Bangladesh is about 0.3-0.4m. In the years of 2010, the migration from Bangladesh was 3,90,702.

Bangladeshi workers are mainly engaged in 143 countries of the world but about 90% of the migration takes place in the Middle East and Malaysia. Libya, Qatar Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Malaysia and Singapore are some of the major countries of destination. Currently, two types of international migration occur from Bangladesh. One takes place mostly to the industrialized west and the other to Middle Eastern and South East Asian countries.

Voluntary migration to the industrialized west includes permanent residents, immigrants, work permit holders and professionals. They are usually perceived as long term or permanent migrants. Migration to Middle East and South East Asia are usually for short term and that migrants return home after finishing their contracts of employment in the host countries.

Bangladesh has classified temporary migrant population into four categories. These are professional, skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled. Doctors, engineers, nurses and teachers are considered as professionals. Manufacturing or garments workers are considered as skilled; while tailor, mason, etc. as semi-skilled workers; housemaid, cleaner, laborers are classified as less-skilled.

Skilled optometrists can help bolster our remittances

Skilled optometrists can help bolster our remittances

The international remittance market in Bangladesh has demonstrated a robust performance, with substantial annual growth marking its recent trajectory. In the year 2023, the inbound remittance market saw an 11.9% increase, culminating in US$ 23.63 billion by the first quarter of 2024. The market is projected to continue to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% from the year 2024 to 2028, estimated to reach a market size of US$ 31.61 billion.

Concurrently, Bangladeshs remittance outflow market also depicted a notable surge of 15.3% within the same year, reaching US$ 178.3 million in 2024. Future forecasts remain optimistic, predicting a CAGR of 10.1% from 2024 to 2028, potentially elevating the market value to US$ 261.5 million.

In the wake of Bangladeshs concerted efforts to enhance its remittance earnings, an urgent call for attention to the optometry profession has emerged. With remittances playing a crucial role in the countrys economy, the government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are urged to focus on bolstering the ranks of skilled optometrists to tap into this potential source of income.

Remittances, predominantly sourced from Bangladeshi expatriates working abroad, have long been a vital pillar of the nations economy, contributing significantly to foreign exchange reserves and improving the livelihoods of countless families. However, to further leverage this financial lifeline, it is imperative to address the growing demand for skilled optometrists both domestically and internationally.

Optometry, a profession specializing in eye health and vision care, holds immense potential for Bangladesh in the context of remittance earnings. As the global population ages and the prevalence of vision-related disorders increases, the demand for optometric services is on the rise worldwide. Bangladesh, with its large diaspora scattered across the globe, stands to benefit substantially from nurturing a robust optometry workforce.

Despite the evident demand, the current landscape of optometry in Bangladesh faces significant challenges, chiefly stemming from a shortage of trained professionals. This dearth not only limits the quality of eye care services within the country but also constrains the ability of Bangladeshi optometrists to seize employment opportunities abroad, where their skills are sorely needed.

To address this pressing issue, concerted efforts from the Bangladesh government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are indispensable. Firstly, there is a need for comprehensive reforms in the education and training infrastructure for optometry within the country. This entails expanding educational institutions offering optometry programs, enhancing curriculum standards, and investing in state-of-the-art facilities to ensure that graduates are equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge to excel in their profession.

Furthermore, proactive measures should be taken to facilitate the recognition and accreditation of Bangladeshi optometry qualifications on an international scale. This will not only enhance the mobility of optometrists seeking employment opportunities abroad but also elevate the global reputation of Bangladesh as a hub for skilled eye care professionals.

In addition to domestic reforms, strategic initiatives should be devised to attract Bangladeshi optometrists working overseas to contribute to the development of the profession within their homeland. This could involve offering incentives such as tax breaks, research grants, or facilitated reintegration programs to encourage skilled optometrists to return and lend their expertise to the local healthcare ecosystem.

By prioritizing the development of the optometry profession, Bangladesh can unlock a wealth of opportunities for economic growth and social development. With remittances serving as a crucial lifeline for millions of Bangladeshis, investing in the expansion and enhancement of the optometry workforce is not only a prudent economic strategy but also a moral imperative to ensure accessible and high-quality eye care for all citizens.

l    To address the shortage of skilled optometrists and maximize the potential economic benefits, the Bangladesh government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must prioritize this profession. This entails implementing strategic measures to:
l    Investing in the education and training of optometry students to ensure they acquire the necessary skills and expertise required for both domestic and international practice.
l    Facilitating continuous professional development opportunities for practicing optometrists to stay updated with the latest advancements in the field and improve their service delivery.
l    Simplifying the certification and licensing procedures for optometrists seeking to practice abroad, thereby facilitating their mobility and employment opportunities in foreign markets.
l    Collaborating with international organizations, professional bodies, and foreign governments to promote the recognition of Bangladeshi optometrists and create avenues for employment abroad.

In conclusion, as Bangladesh charts its course towards economic prosperity, the pivotal role of optometry in bolstering remittance earnings cannot be overstated. Through concerted efforts and strategic investments, the government and relevant authorities can lay the groundwork for a thriving optometry sector that not only enriches the nations coffers but also enhances the well-being of its people.

The writer is a Research Fellow & Senior Lecturer, Management & Science University, Malaysia

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