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Last modified on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 18:00

Columbia Professor Seeking Health Transition in Bangladesh

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Dr.  Mushtaque Chowdhury, professor of clinical population and family health  at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and founding  dean of BRAC University’s James P. Grant School of Public Health in  Bangladesh, has authored research in a Lancet Bangladesh  series of papers. “Overall, there has been a shift from the priority of  managing infectious diseases to where we are now – a focus on public  health programs to mitigate the effects of natural disasters and the  burgeoning of non-communicable diseases, especially in the country's  urban areas.” Launch of the Lancet series on Bangladesh will be held at the United Nations on January 15.



In  the article, “The Bangladesh Paradox: Exceptional Health Achievement  Despite Economic Poverty,” and the first in the series of six papers,  Dr. Chowdhury writes that Bangladesh has been commended as an  exceptional health performer. Especially noteworthy is the country’s  widespread deployment of community health workers, mostly female, to  bring high-priority services to every household in the country including  programs in family planning, immunization, oral rehydration therapy,  maternal and child health, tuberculosis, vitamin A supplementation, and  other activities. “However, while the country has achieved substantial  health advances, evidence shows that these achievements are  counterbalanced by steep and sustained reductions in birth rate and  mortality, the persistence of child and maternal malnutrition and the  low use of maternity-related services and some basic health services,”  he says.


And,  Bangladesh is likely to continue to face “the complex pushes and pulls”  of many social determinants, and future health challenges are already  becoming apparent, according to Dr. Chowdhury. While its health system  was shaped to address poverty-linked infectious, nutritional, and  maternity-related diseases, adjustments to the health system are needed  to tackle chronic non-communicable diseases. Dr. Chowdhury addresses the  need to overhaul Bangladesh's health system as a key first step in  reducing inequality in the provision of health services andisconvinced  that universal health coverage is the way forward for his country. The  “call to action” in this Lancet Series proposes that universal health  coverage (UHC) should be the ultimate goal for Bangladesh. Support from  the Mailman School of Public Health helped launch BRAC University’s  James P. Grant School of Public Health in Bangladesh in 2005. The School  was one of only four schools of public health in South Asia.


To read more, click here.


To listen to Dr. Chowdhury on the Lancet series, click here.


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