In the Media

In the Media (55)

 

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Emily Coppel Headshot sm

Special to the Philanthropy Journal

By Emily Coppel

A little more than 30 years ago in Bangladesh, Naveen’s* mother was about to give birth to a baby girl. Her family was relatively well off, and she was able to deliver in one of the better hospitals in the country. But complications arose just after Naveen came into the world: her mother began to hemorrhage internally; she was bleeding profusely and her fever wouldn’t drop. The doctors said Naveen’s mother had an infection, and the hospital had just one dose of antibiotics. Thankfully, she could afford the antibiotics. Miraculously, she survived.

High maternal and child mortality rates historically have been seen as a telling indicator of a country’s failing health system. In 1980, the situation was especially stark in Bangladesh: two in every 25 babies would die as an infant; one in every hundred mothers would not survive childbirth. With 84 million people (now nearly 160 million) living in a country the size of Iowa, a public health solution needed to be expansive.

BRAC LogoAlthough it isn’t well known in the US, one of the largest NGOs in the world began in Bangladesh in the 70s. Known as BRAC, the organization now reaches 138 million people, in 11 countries worldwide, with programs that range from healthcare to education, gender justice to microfinance. Recently, BRAC was ranked the number one NGO in the world by NGO Advisor, largely because of its unique self-financing model – 70 percent of the organization’s budget comes from its own social enterprises.

But in the 80s, BRAC was still growing, developing programs to help the country recover from the 1971 war of independence and a series of cyclones, both of which contributed to devastating, widespread poverty. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, a former Shell Oil executive, founded BRAC because he was motivated by the urgent needs of his fellow Bangladeshis. The country’s pressing health crisis was foremost in Abed’s mind.

Faced with the challenge of extremely high maternal and child mortality rates, another organization might have built a hospital or shipped medical supplies to Bangladesh. Abed and BRAC took a different approach. At the time, diarrheal disease was one of the biggest killers of children. The disease precipitated severe dehydration, leading to a loss of electrolytes that was lethal for children. In rural areas of Bangladesh, few people knew how to treat sick children suffering from the disease.

BRAC researchers developed a simple yet life-saving solution: a combination of salt, sugar and water, which, if given in the correct proportion, would rehydrate children and decrease their likelihood of death to just one percent. A pinch of salt, one fistful of sugar and a liter of water created the perfect elixir. The formula was only one part of the solution; teaching and persuading families to give this liquid to their children was the real hurdle.

BRAC piloted a project that trained volunteers from communities without access to health resources. These volunteers were women, over the age of 25, with a basic level of education. They became community health workers, known in Bangladesh as Shasthya Shebikas.

The Shasthya Shebikas trained new mothers face-to-face on how to make and administer the rehydration solution to their children. They revisited mothers regularly, testing them on how to make the mixture correctly and ensuring they gave it to their children when they fell sick. After significant trial and error, BRAC altered the teaching approach and established incentives for effective training. The program worked. BRAC scaled up to ultimately reach 12 million households in almost every village in Bangladesh.

In 1988, one in five children died from cholera or diarrheal-related disease. By 2007, it was one in 50.

When BRAC pivoted to address maternal health in the 80s, this massive network of Shasthya Shebikas proved instrumental. BRAC trained them in pre- and post-natal care to ensure that pregnant mothers had the tools for a safe and healthy birth. These volunteers visited mothers regularly throughout their pregnancy, monitoring their vital signs and referring them to nearby clinics when necessary.

The organization also sold medicine to Shasthya Shebikas at a low cost, and they in turn sold them to villagers for a low, fixed price. The program became self-financing, and the health workers were even able to make a small profit. Today, BRAC has a network of more than 100,000 health workers in seven countries, reaching millions worldwide.

This approach – finding a simple solution, testing it and scaling it up – is used by BRAC across health, education, financial empowerment, livelihood, and all of its program areas.

For mothers like Naveen’s, faced with complications giving birth, or nursing a sick child, it’s often the low-tech solutions – a trained health worker, access to medication, or a rehydrating liquid – that offer the real miracles. It’s the simple solutions that save the most lives.


*Naveen’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

 

This article was originally posted here: http://pj.news.chass.ncsu.edu/2016/08/01/brac-usa/

 

The largest NGO in the world, BRAC headquartered in Bangladesh, applies its development aid concepts outside Bangladesh in ten countries around the world. The silver bullet? Building on the strength of each individual. An interview with Petra Costerman Boodt, BRAC International's Resident Representative Fundraiser in The Netherlands, on aid, on 'giving', and the international opportunities for BRAC. Read more

Wednesday, 04 May 2016 18:00

Birthday wishes pour in for Sir Abed

 

Wishes poured in from the global leaders in celebration of the 80th birthday of Brac Founder and Chairman Sir Fazle Hasan Abed on April 27.

Gordon Brown, former prime minister of the UK, Desmond Swayne, minister of State for International Development, UK, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, minister of International Development and the Pacific, Australia, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, are among a few of those who wished their best. Read More.

 

When Sa’a jumped from the moving truck, she wasn’t thinking about her education that had just been cut short. She was fleeing for her life.

One of the more than 250 girls kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, two years ago, Sa’a recounted that heartbreaking story to members of Congress recently, renewing calls to rescue the hundreds of still missing schoolgirls and finally #bringbackourgirls.

Sa’a is now a college student in the U.S. Her story is a reminder of what is possible when girls are given the chance to receive a quality education in a safe place. Her story also illustrates what we stand to lose when a girl’s education is taken away. Read More.

Brac Founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed yesterday spent a busy day at work despite it being his 80th birthday, carving out time to enjoy a 4D exhibition and a festive programme when a book containing articles about him written by noted personalities was also unveiled. Former diplomat Faruk Chowdhury, who edited the book, presented Sir Fazle with a copy and the latter cut a cake, said a press release. Born in 1936 in Bangladesh, Sir Fazle was educated at both Dhaka and Glasgow universities. He was a professional accountant in his thirties, working as a senior corporate executive at Shell Oil when the 1971 Liberation War had a profound effect on him, dramatically changing the direction of his life. He left his job, moved to London and devoted himself to Bangladesh's war of independence. Read more

 

 

The many positive contributions made by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed testify to a life which has been eminently successful and a source of inspiration for others. A golden thread that runs through his range of activities is an abiding concern for bringing about change in the lives of human beings by affording them opportunities for realising their potential. His creative response to the challenge for change was as founder of an extraordinary NGO called BRAC. The institutions and activities sponsored and supported by BRAC reflect this concern, as these embrace, among others, education, health, human rights, the rule of law, and governance. Read More.

 

Monday, 25 April 2016 18:00

A tribute to a champion of the deprived

I can think of few people who have done more for the world's deprived population than Fazle Hasan Abed. His contribution spans Bangladesh where BRAC, the organisation he founded in 1972, services close to 10 million of the country's underprivileged households. Through Abed's commitment to serve the world's deprived, BRAC has now extended its reach across the globe. It has invested its experience in rehabilitating the tsunami victims in Sri Lanka and the war-ravaged population in Afghanistan where two of its officials, working in high risk areas, were held hostage by the Taliban. BRAC is now reaching out on a large scale to serve the underprivileged populations in various regions of Africa. It has been actively engaged in Pakistan, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Liberia and Sierra Leone. BRAC has even extended its reach across the Atlantic to Haiti. Read more

Sunday, 24 April 2016 18:00

PSDF joins hands with BRAC

Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) has joined hands with BRAC Pakistan, one of the largest non-governmental international development organizations in community health sector in the world which is based in Bangladesh.

PSDF Chief Operating Officer Ali Akbar Bosan and BRAC’s country representative& CEO Muzaffar-ud-Din signed the contract here.

Under the project, BRAC Pakistan will train 720 mature trainers who will impart training to 48,000 LHWs across the Punjab.

With improved skills, these LHWs would create awareness in community to improve health conditions at tehsil level, take active role to improve maternal, newborn and child health issues, help government to reduce child mortality rate and contribute in family planning services. Read More

Sunday, 24 April 2016 18:00

Workers deserve better protection

The government should establish a strong legal protection and permanent framework to ensure adequate compensation for the victims of factory disasters, experts said yesterday. They spoke at a seminar in the capital's Spectra Convention Hall, organised by Brac, on the eve of the third anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy. Three years ago, on April 24, the Rana Plaza building collapsed, crushing workers underneath and drawing the world's attention to the safety concerns. The country lost at least 1,136 lives, and 2,438 were injured and scarred forever. Read more

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