News (625)




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.


Dhaka/London, 14 November 2013. An innovative programme by development organisation BRAC transforming health for women and children in Dhaka’s slums has been awarded a prize in the first global GlaxoSmithKline and Save the Children $1million Healthcare Innovation Award.

BRAC is one of five organisations, from a long list of nearly 100 applications from 29 countries from across the developing world, selected by the judging panel to share the award. It will receive $300,000 to pilot test its programme, called Manoshi, in the slums of Freetown, Sierra Leone, where under-five and maternal mortality rates are amongst the highest in the world.

The Manoshi programme offers a comprehensive package of health services to mothers, infants and children. To meet their health needs and challenges, Manoshi has three key innovations that provide holistic solutions, including: 

  • Simple, clean delivery rooms for new mothers
  • Quick access to emergency health services for those who could not afford it
  • Digital data collection on patients for more efficient health service delivery

The Bangladesh-based NGO, founded in 1972, plays a significant part in the push to reduce Bangladesh’s own under-five and maternal mortality rates, the latter of which has seen a 40 per cent drop in a decade.

A judging panel of experts from the fields of public health and development1, co-chaired by Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, and Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive of Save the Children, including Dr Abbas Bhuiya, Interim Executive Director of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, were impressed with the south-led innovation and the viability and impact of Manoshi and its potential to transform health for growing urban populations in Bangladesh and in Sierra Leone. 

Azizul Huq, Bangladesh Country Manager at GSK, said: “This remarkable project shows what can be achieved through south-led innovation and we are delighted to be able to recognise the hard work of all involved. It has saved lives of mothers and children in Bangladesh and can make a difference for the people of Sierra Leone.” 

Dr. Kaosar Afsana, Director of BRAC's Health, Nutrition and Population Programme said: “It is an honour to be recognised and awarded for the work we are doing in Bangladesh through our Manoshi programme. We thank GSK and Save the Children for the award money, which will be used to take the programme to Freetown, Sierra Leone, demonstrating excellent South-South collaboration.”

The partnership between GSK and Save the Children aims to deliver a new model for corporate-charity working to help save the lives of a million children.


BRAC and Afghan Ministry examine children's rights

On 13 November 2013, BRAC signed a Memorandum of Understanding  with Afghanistan's Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled. The memorandum examines children's rights policies, codes of conduct, and other supporting legal materials regarding improving conditions of children. Under the memorandum, BRAC will be a member of the Child Protection Action Network in Afghanistan. The Ministry will also support all initiatives to protect and care for children in families and communities in Afghanistan where BRAC is active

BRAC Institute of Global Health’s (BIGH) midwifery department is leading a community-based midwifery diploma programme (CMDP), in partnership with national non-governmental implementing partner organisations (IPOs). This innovative educational initiative, funded by DFID, with technical support from Jhpiego, the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Bangladesh (OGSB) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), is the first of its kind in the private sector of Bangladesh. 

The programme is designed to recruit students from remote and underserved areas with high maternal and newborn health needs, build their capacity through a three-year residential diploma in midwifery and deploy midwives in their respective communities upon graduation. 

November 9, 2013 marked a special day for the programme and its first-year midwifery students. BRAC’s founder and chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed visited Shimantik and FIVDB, two Sylhet-based IPOs. Accompanying Sir Fazle were Dr Ahmed Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, BRAC vice-chair, Faruque Ahmed, executive director of BRAC International programmes, Dr Kaosar Afsana, director of BRAC’s health programme, Ismat Bhuiya, director of the midwifery programme, and other staff. The high profile visit was intended to strengthen links between BRAC and the BIGH and build a workforce dedicated to saving the lives of mothers and newborns in communities.

Students interacting with the BRAC founder and chair and the BRAC vice-chair while presenting academic posters

The BRAC founder and chairperson and senior executives visited the academic and residential facilities of Shimantik in Sylhet and FIVDB in Khadimnagar, meeting students, faculty, clinical preceptors and programme personnel. The first-year students enrolled in BRAC University’s midwifery programme introduced themselves, and informed the high profile visitors of the union each student represents. In a question and answer session that followed, Sir Fazle asked students questions on the modules covered in their curriculum, which include topics related to health systems, community health, the role of midwives, life cycle nutrition, basic sciences, antenatal care and birth preparedness, childbirth and immediate newborn care, breastfeeding and postnatal care, as well as others.

Student discussing community health with Sir Fazle and senior BRAC executives

Students also discussed with Sir Fazle the importance of using visual aids in their learning and tools like partographs to assess the progress of labour. Sir Fazle spoke to students about being advocates of knowledge on safe motherhood within their local communities, dispelling myths and practices that harm mothers and their newborns. He emphasised the importance of actively engaging in their own communities through excellent service and expressed BRAC’s support in helping them become leaders in the field of maternal and newborn health.

“As members of the first batch of this programme, you will avail plenty of opportunities and emerge as champions in your chosen profession. Some of you will go on to earn your BSc in midwifery, others will one day earn a PhD. Work hard and success will come to you in different forms. For some, success will appear as leadership positions in the field of midwifery both at home and abroad. For others, success will mean having a record of not letting a single mother you have cared for over your career die during childbirth.” 

- Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC Founder and Chair

The visit offered a unique opportunity for students to interact directly with Sir Fazle and the senior executives of BRAC, as they answered Sir Fazle’s questions about their educational experience and professional ambitions and discussed what healthy motherhood would look like for Bangladeshi mothers with midwives available in every union. 

 “When I was working as a data collector on a research project on CBS, as led by BRAC and icddr,b, I watched a video on Sir Fazle and his tremendous contributions to health, education and development in Bangladesh. Today was a dream come true for me. I got to see Sir Fazle in person. I’m not forgetting today.”


-  Shamsunnahar, 27, a first-year midwifery student and a mother of two from Dewargaach Union, Chunarughat


We are glad to inform you that BRAC has received the 'Best Employer Award 2012’ from in the Development category.With this year's award, BRAC holds the unique distinction of getting this award for the last 3 times.  

The selection of the award winning organisations has been based on a perception survey participated by 3,873 users. BRAC employees’ vote have not been counted in this survey. BRAC has been selected for the award from 1,341 different organisations based on the following indicators: 

  • Work Environment
  • Management Culture & Practice
  • Career Prospect
  • Brand
  • Competitive salary & other benefits


Tuesday, 24 September 2013 18:00

Radio Pollikontho wins Meena Media Award 2013

25 September 2013, Dhaka. Community Radio Pollikontho (99.2 FM), an initiative of BRAC Community Empowerment Programme (CEP), has been awarded the Meena Media Award 2013.  The award, organised by UNICEF, honors both print and electronic streams for their outstanding work in promoting child rights using the respective medium.

BRAC’s community radio, based in Moulvibazar district, took part in the competition with its programme “Alor Bhuban” (enlightened world) which won the second position under Radio Category-Creative Programme. Radio Today and Bangladesh Betar were awarded first and third position respectively.

Senior Station Manager Md. Mehedi Hasan received the award from Honorable Minister, Ministry of Information Hasanul Haque Inu at a ceremony in the capital's Hotel Ruposhi Bangla, Dhaka yesterday on the occasion of Meena Day.  The first, second, and third award recipients received Tk 50,000, Tk 25,000 and Tk 15,000 respectively along with a crest & certificate. UNICEF Bangladesh representative Pascel Villeneuve, UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassadors, actress Mousumi & magician Jewel Aich, were present on the occasion.

The Meena Media Award was introduced by UNICEF in 2005 to celebrate excellence in both print and electronic media on child rights issues. More than 500 reports & programmes, both in print and electronic media, were submitted to the authorities this year on six categories.

Community Radio Pollikontho 99.2 FM, was launched in 2011 at Moulvibazar district with the aim to increase access to information and also strengthen grassroots voice, especially of women. The radio station covers a radius of 17 kilometers reaching nearly 400,000 rural people of the four sub districts of Moulvibazar district broadcasting 8 hrs a day. The programmes are designed to address socio-economic issues within the community, prioritising on women and children.  Currently, 690 listeners clubs have been formed to ensure greater community engagement with the radio station. Earlier in July this year, Radio Pollikontho was also awarded the first position in Family Planning Media Award 2012-2013 competition organised by Family Planning Directorate of Ministry of Health & Family Planning, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh in cooperation with UNFPA.


16 September 2013, Dhaka. Informal apprenticeship is an effective way towards youth employment and empowerment as noted by speakers at a certificate awarding ceremony in the capital’s BRAC Centre today at 11am jointly organised by BRAC and ILO.

Apprenticeship based skill training programme is a potential way for the youth to contribute significantly to the development process of Bangladesh. The formal certification will provide social recognition besides creating sufficient job opportunities for these trained youth both in formal and informal sector.

Special Guest of the ceremony Md. Mozibur Rahman, Joint Secretary of Ministry of Primary & Mass Education and Project Director of BEHTRUWC, says “Of the 1,000 trained young learners, 992 have successfully completed the course and 982 are now employed in nine different trades earning anywhere between Tk. 10,000-15,000 per month. Some of them are entrepreneurs and this is indeed a very encouraging prospect for our country aiming to become a middle income nation soon”.  

Arthur Shears, Chief Technical Advisor, ILO Bangladesh TVET Reform Project said of the partnership, “We have proved that apprenticeships work in Bangladesh.  Now the challenge is to scale this success up; we want to see one crore of the country’s young people skilled and employed. The ILO believes in decent work for all, and quality skills development programmes are essential in creating more decent work opportunities.”

Safiqul Islam, Director of BRAC Education Programme, is hopeful that “since BRAC is known for scaling up its projects, we look forward to working towards achieving the one crore target soon. This is a multi stakeholder project and that provides a great opportunity to explore prospects of innovations in this sector”.

At the ceremony, BRAC in association with Bangladesh Manpower, Employment & Training (BMET), Bureau of Non Formal Education (BNFE) and ILO presented certificates to 100 young graduates who have successfully completed their six months long apprenticeship based skill training with BRAC and ILO’s Skill Training for Advancing Resources (STAR) project. These 100 trainees are among the 1,000 trainees who are direct beneficiaries of Bringing Education to Hard to Reach Urban Working Children (BETRUWC) and have received apprenticeship training in the informal sector for nine different trades.

16 September 2013, New York.

Partners issue philanthropic challenge to others to fight poverty by scaling up successful programs that educate and empower adolescent girls.

At a BRAC empowerment & livelihoods for adolescents club meeting in South Sudan.

BRAC USA and NoVo Foundation have announced a $5 million, five-year partnership to support the education and empowerment of adolescent girls through BRAC programs in multiple countries, starting in South Sudan and Afghanistan.

Targeting girls in hard-to-reach communities, the partnership will scale up several of BRAC’s existing education and empowerment programs, including primary schooling for younger girls and safe spaces for adolescents, from 2013 to 2018.

"Girls are the most marginalized members of societies in development, yet they also have enormous potential for changing their lives and the lives of those around them,” says Jennifer Buffett, CEO and co-chairperson of the NoVo Foundation.

“Jennifer and I challenge other philanthropists to invest in scaling up girls empowerment programs with a track record of success,” adds Peter Buffett, co-chairperson of the NoVo Foundation.

“BRAC is living proof of the power of the Girl Effect,” says Susan Davis, president and CEO of BRAC USA. “Our programs focus on education inside and outside the classroom, equipping girls with the tools they need to avoid early marriage and pregnancy, stay in school, support themselves, and ultimately take control of their lives. We know from our experience in Bangladesh, where BRAC was founded, that when girls and women become agents of change in their own lives, it catalyzes lasting change across communities and nations.”

The Girl Effect, a movement spearheaded by the Nike Foundation in partnership with others such as NoVo and BRAC, is defined as the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves, their families, their countries and the world. BRAC is the world’s largest Girl Effect implementing organization.

“Sisters need to come up and build the country,” says Ajah, 19, a member and peer mentor at a BRAC adolescent girls club in South Sudan, where the literacy rate is only 27%, and the level of child enrollment is second lowest in the world after Afghanistan, according to World Vision. According a UN report from 2011, children in South Sudan are more likely to die before the age of five than complete a primary education. Of children ages 6 to 17, about 70% have never entered a classroom, Unicef reports. Only four percent of South Sudanese women ages 15 to 49 have ever used contraception, according to the World Bank.
In nearby Uganda, independent research has recorded remarkable effects of BRAC’s adolescent girls program, called Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents. Self-reported condom usage increased 12.6 percentage points for program participants, compared to a control group, while fertility rates fell by more than 28% and the likelihood of income generation through self-employment rose 35%.

The NoVo-BRAC partnership will build on and add to a rich body of research that demonstrates which youth interventions work – and which do not – in specific contexts. Over the partnership’s five years, research and evaluation will be led by BRAC’s independent East Africa Research and Evaluation Unit, based in Kampala, Uganda, and operated in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation.
“I encourage other girls of my age to go to school for learning, because education is the backbone of the nation,” says a girl at a BRAC primary school in Afghanistan, where only about 40 percent of primary school-age girls are enrolled in school, according to Unicef.

In Afghanistan, the BRAC-NoVo partnership will fill a funding gap in a larger BRAC program operated with support from other development partners. The program will eventually put 120,000 children through primary school. Most will have never had the opportunity to attend school before, and 80% will be female.
The partnership leaves room for further expansion of programs for adolescent girls in other countries.

Founded in 1972 by Fazle Hasan Abed as a limited relief operation in remote Bangladesh, BRAC is now considered the largest nongovernmental organization in the world. The organization reaches an estimated 135 million people in 11 countries, with a vast array of antipoverty programs including microfinance, education, healthcare, legal rights training and community empowerment.

Experts stress special TB control measures for urban poor

12 September 2013, Dhaka. Medical experts, practitioners, healthcare providers and policymakers at a roundtable on Thursday said special measures to treat tuberculosis among slum dewellers in the cities.

Having said that TB patients need to follow a rigorous course of medicines for a certain time, they said patients living in the slums often find it difficult to complete the course as they often need to move away for livelihood or other cause.

The National TB Control Programme, The Daily Ittefaq and non-governmental organization BRAC organized the roundtable on ‘Government and non-governmental involvement in TB control and care: Bangladesh context’ at the BRAC Centre.
Dr Mojibur Rahman, national programme consultant, National TB Control Programme, gave the key-note presentation at the event modertated by Shaheen Reza Noor, executive editor of Daily Ittefaq. 

In his chief guest’s speech, Professor Dr Khondokar Md Shefyetullah, director-general of health, said in terms of the poor national budget allocation for the health sector the success is highly appreciable.

‘The success we have achieved in the health sector is a collaborative result of the government’s commitment, GO-NGO partnership and media involvement,’ the DG said.

He further said the government has 32 operational plans for health sector, one of which involves the mangement of tuberculosis and leprosy.

Dr Md Ashaque Husain, line director, TB and Leprosy, National TB Control Programme, Muzaffar Hossain Paltu, senior vice-president, National Anti-Tuberculosis Association of Bangladesh, M Hamid, director-general of BTV, attended the programme as special guests.

Md Nuruzzaman Haque, National TB Control Programme, Ashish Ghosh Saikat, managing editor, Ittefaq also attended the roundtable. Dr Md Akramul Islam, associate directior, Health Nutrition and Population Programme of BRAC, gave the welcome speech.

Dr Md Ashaque Husain said TB management will soon be included in the national undergraduate medical curriculum.

Dr Md Delwar Hossain, associate professor of BIRDEM, said around 10 patients among each 100 diabetic patients are being detected with TB infection.
Experts also stressed strengthening of GO-NGO partnership in tuberculosis management in the country.

According to the National Tuberculosis Control Programme, in 2011 a total of 1,55,564 people were detected with TB.

09 September 2013, Dhaka. Bangladesh has achieved its target for reducing deaths from malaria much ahead of time, experts said at a roundtable on Sunday.

They said the country by 2012 has successfully reduced deaths from malaria by 60 per cent, a target it had originally set to achieve by 2015.

Well-coordinated efforts of the government, NGOs and the media helped the country achieve the success, the speakers said.

The National Malaria Control Programme, Directorate General of Health Services, daily Samakal and non-government organization BRAC organized the event titled ‘National Malaria Control Programme: Present situation and future work plan’ at the BRAC Centre in Dhaka.

Health experts at the programme said currently more than 1.5 crore people of 13 districts in the country are in the risk of being infected by malaria.

According to 2012 statistics, 29518 patients were affected with the disease of whom 11 died. Of the districts in risk, Cox's Bazar and three hill districts, Khagrachhari, Rangamati and Bandarban are most affected.

Speakers pointed out that want of trained doctors and nurses in the Chittagong Hill Tracts is a major challenge in fighting the disease.

Chief guest of the programme, MM Neazuddin, health and family welfare secretary, criticized the tendency among many doctors to stay in the cities.

The problem is not only of the hilly districts, but of all over Bangladesh, he said, adding, 'I get so many requests for transfer that sometimes I switch off my cell phone'.

Mostafiz Safi, executive editor, Samakal, presided over the programme with Professor Dr Khondhaker Md Shefyetallah, director general of health service, and Professor Dr MA Faiz, former director general of health service, present as special guests.

The keynote presentation was given by Professor Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, director (disease control) and line director (CDC), health service, ministry of health and family welfare. Abdullah Shahriar, assistant professor, National Heart Institute and Hospital, also editor of health page of Samakal, moderated the roundtable.

Dr Md Akramul Islam, associate director of BRAC Health Nutrition and Population Programme, also spoke.

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