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08 May 2011, Dhaka. “Government is determined to resolve the problem of blindness in the in the country and achieve the target of Vision 20/20 and that is why Government/NGO partnerships are important.” Prof. Dr. A.F.M Ruhal Haque, Minister of Health and Family Welfare of Bangladesh, said at the Vision Bangladesh Project launching ceremony at the BRAC Inn Auditorium in the city today.
 
Dr. Haque said, “This is a pro-poor government and invested heavilly on building up health care infrastructures such as 10,000 community clinics for better health care for the poor. NGOs can share various health care data with the government and help them on their efforts.”

Government of Bangladesh recently adopted Bangladesh National Eye Care plan' responding to the Vision 2020   "The Right to Sight"  global campaign to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020.  The Vision Bangladesh Project, a joint initiative of BRAC, Sightsavers and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has been specifically designed in accordance with the Government’s national eye care plan with an aim towards eliminating avoidable blindness across Bangladesh by the year 2020. 

(From Left) Dr. Mahabub Hossain - Executive Director of BRAC, Prof. Deen Md. Noorul Huq - Line Director of National Eye Care & Director-NIO&H, Dr. Caroline Harper - OBE/Chief Executive of Sightsavers, Dr. Wahidul Islam - Country Director of Sightsavers, Dr. Ruhal Haque - Minister of Health and Family Welfare of Bangladesh

 

Dr. Ruhal Haque was the chief guest of the ceremony which was chaired by Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director of BRAC. Professor Dr. Khondhaker Md. Shefyetullah, Director General-Directorate General of Health Services, Prof. Deen Md. Noorul Huq, Line Director-National Eye Care & Director-NIO&H and Dr. Caroline Harper, OBE, Chief Executive-Sightsavers also spoke on the occasion. 

“Sightsavers is very excited to have government as part of this initiative because once the programme is completed, government’s involvement is the only way to make it sustainable. Our work in Sylhet is a demonstration which we hope we’ll scale up to meet that goal,” echoed Dr. Caroline Harper. The goal of working in Sylhet is to eliminate the backlog of treatable cataract blindness from Sylhet division by the year 2013. In January 2010, Vision Bangladesh began the first phase of this project with screenings and operations in Sylhet.
 
Blindness is one of the major health care problems in Bangladesh. About 750,000 people are blind including 40,000 children, which are avoidable through proper treatment and care. 

80% of blindness in the country is from easily treatable cataracts – occurring in both young adults and children, not just the elderly. Every year, 150,000 more cases are added to the backlog of nearly one million poor people who are denied the simple procedure that could save their sights – and their future. Cataract surgery is one of the most cost effective health interventions.  BRAC’s community health workers will be trained and used to identify patients with needs of such surgery. The project will be jointly funded by Sightsavers and BRAC and with the government’s help will be integrated into the wider healthcare system.

“One interesting element of the project is that we are asking the diaspora Bangladeshis to come forward and help this initiative as it costs only 20 pounds for a surgery.  Bangladeshis living in UK can certainly contribute and give back to their homeland’ said Dr. Mahabub Hossain.

After the completion of the first phase, findings will be shared with the Government and other local partners with a view towards developing a scale up plan to other divisions of Bangladesh. Government also plans to open up its resources and let the programme build eye care facilities at district hospitals and upazilla health complexes.

4 May 2011, International development NGOs, BRAC and Sightsavers, are running a Channel S appeal on Friday May 6 and a major street collection at the Baishakhi Mela on Sunday May 8 to raise vital funds for cataract operations in Sylhet Division, Bangladesh.

On Friday May 6, from 8.30 pm to midnight Channel S is generously hosting a charity appeal to raise money for the NGO’s’ ‘Vision Bangladesh Appeal’ as a special telethon. The show will feature different studio guests throughout the night from the British-Bangladeshi and charity communities.

The same weekend, on Sunday  May 8 from 11am, BRAC is proud to be the official charity for the Baishakhi Mela, the largest Bangladeshi festival outside of Bangladesh.  BRAC UK will have a stall in Weavers Field and staff and volunteers will be collecting public donations on the day – please give generously!

One cataract operation costs just £20 – or BDT 2,400.

The weekend is part of a growing momentum to raise a total of £3 million with the Vision Bangladesh Appeal to eradicate avoidable blindness in Sylhet Division by 2014. The target is 100,000 cataract operations in three years. The project has already started and is scaling up across the whole of Sylhet Division.

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson, BRAC, who was knighted in 2010 by the Queen for his services to the world’s poor, explains why public support is needed:

“If we can raise the £3 million, we can achieve an incredible goal – eradicating avoidable blindess across the whole of our beautiful Sylhet Division. We all know villages where poor people are blind – a staggering 80% of those people are blind because of untreated cataracts. We can fix that so easily – we just need the funds. Dig deep into your pockets and we will make sure your money goes directly to those poor blind people who desperately need it.”

More details of the appeal, including a film can be found on the BRAC Vision Bangladesh website.

For further press information about Vision Bangladesh, case studies or photographs please contact:

Tanvir Ahmed
Phone: 44 7782415491 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Vision Bangladesh donation details:

By phone – call 020 7922 7723.

By bank transfer to BRAC UK – Vision Bangladesh, Account No.62036991, Sort Code 40 07 13 (HSBC).

Or online at the BRAC Vision Bangladesh website.

About BRAC: 

BRAC UK is a UK registered Charity (Registered Charity Number: 1115482) focused on long term sustainable poverty reduction in Asia and Africa.  BRAC was founded by Fazle Hasan Abed in February 1972, soon after the liberation of Bangladesh.  We are the largest southern-based NGO and employs more than 100,000 people, the majority of which are women, and reaches more than 138 million people with development interventions in Asia and Africa.  Learn more at www.bracuk.net.

About Sightsavers:

Sightsavers is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people who are blind and visually impaired.  Sightsavers has worked in Bangladesh since 1973 and last year treated over 796,746 people, including performing over 64,000 cataract operations and screening 194,502 people for refractive error. Learn more at www.sightsavers.org.

03 May 2011, Dhaka. Leaders and heads of different women’s rights organisations have called for proper allocation of funds for the implementation of the women’s policy in the upcoming fiscal budget. 

The leaders expressed their views in a public gathering organised by the Social Protection Committee at the Shahid Minar on Thursday. The event was chaired by the Ayesha Khanum, Chairperson, Bangladesh Women’s Association. She said, to establish a country, which is democratic, secular and free of discrimination, people from all walks of life need to take a strong stand for the National Women’s Policy 2011.

She also said, there is no mention of which clause of the Women’s Policy has hurt religious sentiments. Rather some fundamentalist organisations are creating anarchy and chaos by giving misleading explanations of religion. She asked the government to immediately implement the Women’s Policy and make a work plan for ensuring successful implementation of the policy. Former advisor to the caretaker government, Rasheda K Chowdhury said the Women’s Policy cannot be affected for one fundamentalist organisation. These organisations are misinterpreting the policy and are misleading society with wrong judgements. She also said, some irresponsible people are against this policy. No knowledgeable person can be against such development activity.

Noman Ahmed, Executive Director for IED stated that the forces defeated in the liberation war are the ones who are against this women’s policy.
Afroze Hoque Lina from Jatiya NariJyot said, the work of women is never highlighted in the national media. If the clashes are highlighted more between women’s organisations and other organisations against women’s rights, the chaos will only increase.

Among other speakers were Professor Dr A.A.M.S Arefin Siddique, Vice Chancellor, Dhaka University, Professor Momtaz Begum, Chairperson, Jatiya Mohila Shangsthya and Anna Minj, Director, Community Empowerment & Strengthening Local Institutions, BRAC and many others.

The event was moderated by Sheepa Hafiza, Director, Gender, Justice & Diversity & Advocacy, BRAC and Rekha Saha, Director, Steps Towards Development.
Apart from the aforementioned, a few thousand people from sixty seven development organisations were present in the event.
 

24 April 2011, Dhaka. BRAC Advocacy Unit organised a dialogue titled  ‘Allocation Mechanism of Budget in Relation to Ultra-Poverty’, jointly  with the Economics Study Center of Dhaka University Dhaka on 13 April  2011 with a view to generate a thorough understanding of the dynamics  and efficiency of the fiscal budget allocations on ultra-poverty issue.  It is an endeavour to include the youth in the policy making process.

The dialogue began with the students from the Economics Study Center presenting on the topic. The panel discussants shared their views on the issue. They emphasized on access to agricultural loan, land and employment to the ultra poor. They also stressed the need for increasing pro-poor economic growth ensuring human development of the ultra poor, strengthening the social safety net, enhancing participatory governance, and government and development organisations collaborating (PPP) in reducing ultra poverty.

The session provided the young university students with a platform to exchange ideas with prominent economists of the country to find more effective ways of tackling extreme poverty. Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director of BRAC; Dr. Binayak Sen, Research Director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies; Dr. Sajjad Zahir, Executive Director of Economic Research Group (ERG); Mr. Mamun Rashid, Banker and Economic Analyst; and Dr. Rushad Faridi of Department of Economics, University of Dhaka were present in the Dialogue as Panel Discussants. Sheepa Hafiza, Director, Gender Justice & Diversity and Advocacy and Rabeya Yasmin, Associate Director, Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction: Targeting The Ultra Poor (CFPR-TUP), were also present from BRAC along with other staff.  .

21 April 2011, New York. BRAC was selected as a Devex Top 40 Development Innovator based on a poll of thousands of Devex members, who collectively comprise one of the largest networks of global aid and international development professionals.

Devex announced the Top 40 Development Innovators on April 18 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/devex. Many of the top 40 innovators also participated in a Q&A on innovation, designed to spur a broader dialogue in the development community (click here to see BRAC's Q&A page).

"Solving the big global challenges we face – from climate change to poverty – will require innovation,” Devex President Raj Kumar said. “We are proud to honor these 40 organizations that are leveraging innovative techniques and approaches to solve complex problems.”

“We are honored to be selected by the Devex community as a Top 40 Development Innovator, especially as the only South-based NGO to be chosen” said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC. “BRAC strives towards continuous innovation in its holistic approach to addressing poverty. Our real success has been in adapting these creative solutions to differing contexts and being able scale up quickly to make significant impact. And we strive do this while keeping a focus on the lives of individuals and communities.”

At Devex Event, Washington, DC. From left: Susan Davis (President & CEO, BRAC USA), Raj Kumar (President, Devex), Mahabub Hossain (Executive Director, BRAC), Tania Zaman (Director, Chairperson's Office (Chief of Staff), BRAC)

The Devex Top 40 Development Innovators include four types of international development organizations: donor agencies & foundations, development consulting companies, implementing NGOs, and advocacy groups. The selection is based on a survey Devex emailed to more than 100,000 aid workers and international development professionals.

All honorees were recognized at a reception at the House of Sweden in Washington, DC on April 21st with Chris Thomas, Chief Strategist at Intel and Sonal Shah, White House Director of Social Innovation as featured speakers. BRAC Executive Director Dr. Mahabub Hossaid and BRAC USA President & CEO Susan Davis represented BRAC at the reception.
 

About BRAC
BRAC is a global development organization dedicated to alleviating poverty by empowering the poor to bring about change in their own lives. BRAC’s holistic approach aims to achieve large scale, positive changes through economic and social programs that enable women and men to realize their potential. BRAC was launched in Bangladesh in 1972 and today reaches more than 138 million people in Africa and Asia through its programs that address poverty by providing micro-loans, self-employment opportunities, health services, education and legal and human rights services. Learn more at www.bracusa.org.

About Devex
More than 500,000 aid workers and development professionals turn to Devex for international development business, careers, and news.

Our online platform – utilized by nearly every major development institution in the world – is helping to create efficiency through an open marketplace for projects, talent, and ideas. Our motto is “Do Good. Do It Well.” because we support the mission of global development professionals, corporations, NGOs, and donor agencies around the world. Join us at devex.com.
 

Media Contacts:

BRAC USA
Michelle Chaplin
1 212 808 5615
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Devex
Pauline Zalkin
1 202 709 6494 

Monday, 18 April 2011 18:00

Intern with BRAC USA!

Are you interested in international development? Do you want to learn from BRAC, one of the world's largest and most effective international development organizations?

BRAC USA is seeking motivated individuals to assist with a variety of projects and initiatives related to BRAC's programmatic areas including public education, program and strategic support services to BRAC programs in Africa and Asia, and grant administration and strategy.

Come learn about international development from one of the leaders in the field! This unpaid internship is an excellent opportunity for those interested in learning about fundraising, grant making and BRAC's scalable and sustainable approach to poverty alleviation.

Interns will possess excellent writing and editing skills, strong interest in international development, ability to work independently and quickly, strong research skills, experience with the nonprofit sector, and proficiency with Microsoft Office software. Preference will be given to candidates with advance degrees. BRAC USA is looking for a minimum commitment of 8 weeks between May and August 2011.

To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume to Sherie Gertler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  with "Summer Internship 2011" in the subject line.

11 April 2011, London. BRAC has won Silver for the best rebrand of a not-for-profit organisation at the International Transform branding awards in London. BRAC, one of the world’s largest development organisations, is widely acclaimed as a pioneer in the alleviation of poverty and empowering the disadvantaged to realise their potential.

In recent years BRAC had undergone rapid expansion in Africa and Asia and its brand and identity had become diffused. BRAC worked closely with international brand consultancy, CDT to develop a new identity and positioning that would present a singular vision and unified message across its growing international footprint of over 10 countries with its outreach of over 130 million people across diverse countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Uganda.

At a ceremony in London, hosted by former New Labour director of communications and strategy at Number 10 Downing Street, Alastair Campbell, BRAC received the prestigious award for its global brand strategy work undertaken with international brand consultants, CDT.

The Transform Awards are the Europe’s only dedicated celebration of rebranding, repositioning and brand transformation. Judged by a panel of branding experts, communications practitioners and academics, the Awards celebrate creativity, innovation and effectiveness in brand transformation.

The Director of BRAC Communications, Asif Saleh said: "BRAC is excited to get recognised for our rebranding effort which was geared towards enhancing its value based existence.  Going forward we hope more and more people will associate BRAC with its core values of innovation, integrity, inclusion and effectiveness. Partnering with CDT in this effort has been fantastic."


07 April 2011, Dhaka. BRAC Advocacy Unit organised a two day long village fair titled ‘Manush Manusher Jonno’ with a aim to create awareness and engage the mass in realising the situation of the people who suffer from extreme poverty. The fair targeted the mass, government, other development organisations and the media to work for the betterment of the ultra poor. It took place on the 1st and 2nd of April at Beltia High School, Jamalpur. Honourable Minister, Mr. Rezaul Karim Hira MP, Ministry of Land inaugurated the fair.

The fair begin with a grand rally on March 31, 2011 lead by Md. Sirajuddin Ahmed, District Commissioner of Jamalpur. People from all walks of life participated in the colorful rally which is a step forward in reintegrating the ultra poor in the mainstream development process.

The fair had stalls from the members of our Ultra Poor programme in addition to stalls from members of other programmes. Members of BRAC Microfinance, Health, Education, CESLI(Community Empowerment & Strengthening Local Institutions) and HRLS(Human Rights and Legal Aid Services)  programmes, Advocacy Jogajog forum and Aarong had stalls in the fair. Popular theaters were staged on both days to address social issues and raising awareness on extreme poverty. The Honourable Minister visited the stalls and later visited the BRAC Area Office at Jamalpur and met BRAC staff. He expressed his appreciation for BRAC’s intervention in the lives of the poorest of poor.

The two day event came to an end with a discussion session and a prize giving ceremony. It attracted a huge turnout of people in the two days. People from all walks of life including distinguished civil society members attended the fair.

Beauty, a member of our ultra poor programme won the first prize for her stall and rice-cakes. She says, “I am delighted everyone liked my pithas (rice-cakes) and was sold out. I have made a profit out of it. The prize has given me confidence to move forward in my life”.
 

7th April 2011, Dhaka.  The BRAC University James P. Grant School of Public Health founded in 2004 with ICDDR,B support, inaugurated its Centre of Excellence for Universal Health Coverage in the Sasakawa Auditorium on the 7th of April, 2011. The Centre will encourage evidence informed policy action for universal health coverage and will focus on three core activities.

First is the generation of knowledge from research of health financing systems. Second is the creation of a competent workforce that can lead new types of health financing systems based on insurance and pre-payment. Third is knowledge translation from other countries so policy makers can make informed decisions.


Dr Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, with Dr Abbas Bhuiya, Deputy Executive Director of ICDDR,B, and others in the Sasakawa Auditorium during the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the  inauguration of the Center of Excellence for Universal Health Coverage at the BRAC University James P. Grant School of Public Health
 

Dr Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation was present at the inauguration as Guest of Honour. She spoke about universal healthcare coverage and how the present financing system leads people to poverty. Dr. Tim Evans, Dean of James P. Grant School of Public Health expressed his enthusiasm in opening the new Centre. The Centre of Excellence is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and is supported by ICDDR,B. The Centre of Excellence for Universal Health Coverage will eventually be housed on the main building of ICDDR,B Mohakhali campus.

Tuesday, 05 April 2011 18:00

BRAC Wins IFTDO Global Award 2011

06 April 2011, Dhaka. BRAC has been awarded The Winner Award and a Certification of Merit at the IFTDO (The International Federation of Training & Development Organizations) Global Award 2011.  ‘Medhabikash Uddyag’ of BRAC Education programme was awarded the winner award in the ‘Knowledge management category’ and ‘Active Citizen and Accountable Local Government (ACALG)’ component of BRAC Community Empowerment and Strengthening Local Institutions programme (CESLI) was awarded a certification of merit in the ‘People management category’. The awards will be presented on the 40th IFTDO World Conference to be held in Warsaw, Poland from 8th to 11th may, 2011. 

Our Medhabikash Uddyog (Promoting Talent) is a scholarship programme where we target bright students from disadvantaged backgrounds and offer them financial support to help pay for tuition fees to continue their education and also provide training on English language and computer skills to help them in pursuing higher education. Our Active Citizens and Accountable Local Government (ACALG) project is an initiative which aims to create an environment for more active civic engagement among rural and semi-urban poor citizens and to strengthen capacities of local government in order to be more accountable and provide effective governance. The project builds capacity and provides training to local government representatives and female leaders and facilitates a forum for regular interaction.

The International Federation of Training & Development Organizations (IFTDO) is a world-wide federation (UK based) formed in 1972 to develop and maintain a world-wide network committed to the development and transfer of knowledge, skills and technology to enhance personal growth, human performance, productivity and sustainable development. Each year, IFTDO gives out awards to projects that have created changes in the lives of people and made a real difference.
 

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