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Last modified on Saturday, 20 April 2013 18:00

Symposium held on integrated services for urban slums

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21 April 2013, Dhaka. BRAC and Averting Maternal Death and Disability programme of Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, co-hosted a two-day symposium on  “URBAN SPACE: INTEGRATED ACTION ON HEALTH, RIGHTS AND POVERTY REDUCTION” in April 19-20, 2013 at the BRAC Centre Auditorium in Dhaka.

With an objective to improve health programmes particularly in the urban slums, the symposium brought together a group of actors working on rights, development and service delivery issues for slum dwellers in the countries of four continents, namely Asia, Africa and the Americas.

At the panel discussion session, BRAC chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed pointed out that the plights the urban slum dwellers face are mainly caused by the ‘lack of pro-poor policies’.

‘The urban poor children have no future while the adults have no present. Often the urban poor end up paying more than the average city dweller to afford the daily services,’ said Sir Abed. Poor healthcare facilities and absence of adequate number of schools worsen their situation, he observed.

Sir Abed praised the facilities created by Manoshi, a programme BRAC has undertaken to ensure healthcare for pregnant mothers and newborn babies living in slums in seven cities of the country.

‘Manoshi is highly successful in its contribution to reducing maternal and neo-natal death rate, reaching more than seven million people across the country,’ he said, urging the government to formulate and implement more pro-poor policies

Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, founder and executive chairman of Power And Participation Research Centre, emphasized the strategy to classify the urban slums to tackle the multifaceted challenges the people living there face every day.

‘Though living in urban areas can provide one with economic opportunities, the social opportunities in terms of health and education become very narrow,’ Dr. Zillur said, adding, ‘The urban poor face the problem of statistical invisibility and legal ambiguity. The mobility of the slum population further increases the challenges of delivering services in an effective manner.’

Additional secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Aiub Rahman Khan and additional secretary of the LGRD ministry Swapan Kumar Sarker spoke, among others. Representatives from Columbia University, USA, WHO, UNDP, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Dustho Shastyo Kendro (DSK) were also present.

Currently, around 12 million (1.2 crore) people, which means  30 per cent of the country’s urban population, live in slums or are in floating condition in urban areas.
 

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