Bangladesh achieves exceptional success in health sector despite poverty: Lancet


Dhaka, November 23, 2013

Bangladesh has achieved remarkable success in healthcare contributing a significant improvement in the survival of under fives, immunization coverage and tuberculosis control, according to British medical journal, The Lancet
The journal said outstripping neighbour India, and Pakistan from which it won independence, Bangladesh cut maternal deaths by 75 percent since 1980 and halved infant deaths since 1990. Life expectancy has increased to 68.3 years. Series co-leader Prof Mushtaque Chowdhury, also vice-chairperson of the world’s largest NGO, BRAC, said Bangladesh’s success ‘convincingly’ defied the expert opinion that reducing poverty and increasing health resources were the ‘key drivers’ of improving health. According to the Series, what set Bangladesh apart was its ‘pluralistic’ health system in which many stakeholders including the private sector and NGOs were “encouraged to thrive and experiment”.
This led to rapid improvements in accessing essential services such as diarrhoea treatment, family planning, vitamin A supplementation, and vaccination coverage. Bangladesh was seen as a ‘pioneer’ in scaling up community-based approaches to take key health interventions to the household level.

For instance, the tuberculosis cure rate rose to more than 90 percent, among the highest in the world, from less than 50 percent when community health workers were engaged by NGOs.

Female health workers' door-to-door services helped raise the use of contraceptives to 62 percent, with a rapid fall in total fertility rate to 2.3 in 2010 from 6.3 after independence in 1971 – a rate that Lancet says was ‘unparalleled’ in countries with similar levels of development.

Other factors that made a big impact included a strong focus on reducing gender inequality through pro-poor and pro-women development programmes like education and microfinance, and improvements in natural disaster preparedness and response.
The editor in chief of the journal concluded his write up by saying that "Bangladeshis have shown enormous creativity, resilience, and energy in the past. They will need to continue to do so again in the future,”

Source: Various news agencies

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