A Bangladeshi community health worker. File pictrure: Wikimedia Commons
The health sector of Bangladesh has overcome poverty and low healthcare-spending to make significant achievements over the last four decades, said a six-part series on Bangladesh published by the internationally-reputed medical journal The Lancet.
The achievements were made especially in improving the survival rate of infants and children under the age of five, bettering life expectancy, expanding immunisation coverage and strengthening tuberculosis control, the series observed. A launching ceremony, organised by the ICDDRB, Brac and The Lancet, was held on Thursday at the capital’s Rupashi Bangla Hotel to mark the publication of the series.
The series however said the country still faces many problems, including poverty and malnutrition, which were being exacerbated by an evolving set of 21st century challenges like rapid urbanization, an upsurge in chronic and non-communicable diseases and increasing vulnerability to climate change.
Speaking at the event, Dr Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, said Bangladesh was one of only six countries among a total of 75 countries in the world to achieve millennium development goals number four and five, making Bangladesh a member of an exclusive club of successful nations.
The six-part series has also taken a comprehensive look at one of the “great mysteries of global health,” investigating a story not only of “unusual success” but the challenges that lie ahead as Bangladesh moves towards universal health coverage.
“Over the 40 years, Bangladesh has outperformed its Asian neighbors, convincingly defying the expert view that reducing poverty and increasing health resources are the key drivers of better population health,” said co-leader of the series Professor Mushtaque Chowdhury from Brac.
“Since 1980, maternal mortality has dropped by 75% while infant mortality has more than halved since 1990, and life expectancy has increased to 68.3 years – surpassing neighboring India and Pakistan,” he added.
According to the series, Bangladesh’s pluralistic health system where many stakeholders including the private and non-government organisations have been encourage to thrive and experiment – is what sets the country apart. This has also led to rapid improvements in access to essential services such as diarrhea treatment, family planning, vitamin-A supplements and vaccination coverage.
Source: Dhaka Tribune