Venue: Hotel Ruposhi Bangla, Dhaka.
Respected chair of the session Sir Fazle Hasan Abed;
Dr. AFM Ruhul Haque, Hob’ble Minister for Health and Family Welfare;
Dr. Richard Horton, Editor in Chief, The Lancet;
Learned Participants from home and abroad;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I am delighted to be present here today in the launching of the special Lancet series on Bangladesh's health progress and future challenges. I congratulate members of the steering committee of the Lancet series on Bangladesh for steering the process of publication of the series. My special appreciation to icddr,b, and BRAC for providing institutional support to the initiative. I also would like to thank the Rockefeller Foundation for their support and The Lancet for publishing the Bangladesh’s success story. I convey my sincere thanks to the authors who have rightly highlighted the factors that have contributed to the health gain in Bangladesh.
I also would like to take this opportunity to thank the leadership and the staff members in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and NGOs for their hard work which obviously deserves a mention.
My sincere appreciation for the development partners for their commitment and support to strengthen our health sector. I am sure that they will be as happy as we are seeing the progress reported in this series.
You may know it very well that health systems are complex and there is no simple recipe for success in health sectors in any country, either poor or rich. However, some countries achieve better health outcomes than others despite a similar level of socioeconomic development. Bangladesh had a very difficult start with its health sector after 1971 War of Independence and has faced many challenges due to major political changes including transition from military to civilian rule. Despite such challenges, a number of health indicators have improved and some impressive improvement have happened within a relatively short period of time. Maternal mortality in Bangladesh has consistently declined over the past nine years and now the country has the lowest fertility rate in south Asia. The successful programs for child immunization, coupled with the successful control of diarrhoeal diseases and Vitamin A supplementation program have significantly contributed to the rapid decline in child and infant deaths which helped the country achieve its target of reducing under -five mortality rate ahead of time.
The MDG targets of TB case detection and cure rates has been achieved and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS has been contained below an epidemic level. Not only that, more than 95 percent of the population of Bangladesh now have access to improved drinking water and improved sanitation, which have contributed as catalysts to overall health improvement in the country. Establishment of community clinics for providing essential health services in the rural areas, and tele medicine services in the sub district hospitals have broadened health service coverage in the country, particularly in hard to reach areas.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
These successes were possible due to the high-level of political commitment of the government for the improvement of the health as a basic human right of the citizen of Bangladesh, and the relentless hard work of the civil servants, healthcare providers with extended partnerships with the non-governmental sectors and support from the development partners. I was very satisfied to see that the authors of the Lancet series have done a spectacular job analyzing the key policies of the government of Bangladesh that have contributed to the overall development of health status of its people. Such an analysis is not only important for a government to showcase its success, but also necessary for giving directions for the future health polices and large scale investments in health.
You are well aware that the government of Bangladesh has created an excellent platform for the Non Government Organizations (NGOs) to develop effective partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and committed in continuing this partnership for improving the health of its citizens, particularly targeting the poor, women and children through health service delivery to hard-to-reach groups. The government has developed an Investment Plan for the Health Care Financing Strategy for expanding social protection for health through Universal Coverage. I am confident that if the government can successfully implement its newer health and development polices, we will not need to wait for another four decades to see a further health improvement in the country.
In conclusion, let me mention that the Lancet series will help disseminate the successful initiative of Bangladesh in the international forum which would also benefit many other nations in the developing world.
Let me thank the organizers of this event for inviting me to share my thoughts and express the strong commitment of the Government of Bangladesh in health sector.
With this few words I am very pleased to announce launching of The Lancet Series on Bangladesh.
Khoda Hafez, Bangladesh Chirojibi Hok.
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