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Thursday, 10 August 2017 00:00

Bangladesh Health Watch Report 2016 launched

Non-communicable disease control major challenge
Lack of service for women and children

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Inadequacies in non-communicable disease control measures pose a major threat in the country’s health sector despite other commendable achievements in improving the healthcare services. Particularly, there is a serious shortage in healthcare services in this regard for women and children. Insufficient infrastructure and lack of preparedness to meet the patient demands are also part of the scenario.

Speakers discussed these issues at the launch ceremony of the sixth Bangladesh Health Watch Report 2016 today on Thursday (10 August 2017) at the BRAC Centre Auditorium in the capital.

The event titled ‘Non-Communicable Diseases in Bangladesh: Current Scenario and Future Directions’ had Nahin Razzaq MP, member of the parliament standing committee on youth and sports ministry, as its chief guest.

Simeen Mahmud, head (acting) of Gender Studied Cluster, and coordinator of Centre for Gender and Social Transformation, Bangladesh Institute of Governance and Development, BRAC University, chaired the programme.

Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, Jane Edmondson, Dhaka Office head of United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, and Anders Ohstrom, head of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, spoke among others at the event.

Dr Ahmed Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, vice-chairman of BRAC, gave the welcome address.

Nahin Razzaq MP said, ‘With the increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases the government has started investing in this area. We are going to formulate an action plan on next month. We have also increased emphasis on young people’s engagement in sports and cultural activities.’

Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury said, ‘Although the government is implementing many commendable programmes, due only to some wrong policies non-communicable diseases is heading towards a crisis situation. The organ transplant law that the government has recently enacted is not practical. I believe, the government could have the law formulated with directions that allowed not only close relatives but anyone to donate kidney.’

The report presented data and analysis on the nature and risk factors regarding the non-communicable diseases in Bangladesh. The challenges highlighted in the report among others include: One, Mainstreaming non-communicable disease service provision at the primary healthcare level, two, Non-functioning regulatory framework and lack of coordination at the national level and three, lack of robust national database incorporating data from rural and urban areas as well as public and private sources for regular and strong surveillance of such diseases.

To mitigate the challenges the report has put forward five challenges:

  1. Build awareness across the society about the urgency of tackling non-communicable diseases and its consequential impact on poverty alleviation, economic development and achieving the universal healthcare policy.
  2. Develop an integrated, multi-sector approach to prevent and manage non-communicable diseases with the health and family welfare ministry in the lead.
  3. Strengthen the current health systems at all levels to address non-communicable diseases, focusing on human and physical capacity of the primary healthcare services for early diagnosis and treatment, follow-up services and disease risk reduction.
  4. Establish a comprehensive national-level surveillance system for the four major non-communicable diseases.
  5. Generate evidence for preventive and curative service delivery regarding non-communicable diseases effectively and efficiently, keeping equity and universal coverage in focus.
  6. The report also stressed that a ‘concerted, strategic, and multi-sectoral policy approach’ is essential to tackle the emerging epidemic of non-communicable diseases in Bangladesh.

Download the report

 

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Bangladesh in image crisis for human trafficking and irregular migration to Europe in sea routes

Trafficking godfathers must be caught: NHRC chair

Bangladesh is now among the top countries of origin for illegal immigrants in Europe. In the first six months of the current year (2017), 7,899 illegal Bangladeshi migrants entered Europe through the Mediterranean Sea route only, according to Frontex, an organisation of European Council working to coordinate between the border security forces of European Union member countries.

Speakers revealed this information at a consultation meeting today on Saturday (29 July 2017) at BRAC Centre Inn. Development organisation BRAC organised the event titled 'Situation analysis of illegal trafficking and irregular migration' on the occasion of World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

Kazi Reazul Hoque, chairman, National Human Rights Commission Bangladesh, was present at the programme as the chief guest.

Chaired and moderated by Asif Saleh, senior director, strategy, communication and empowerment, BRAC and BRAC International, the event was also attended, among others, by Jabed Ahmed, additional secretary, expatriates welfare and oversees employment ministry, C R Abrar, professor, International Relations, Dhaka University, also coordinator of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), and Shah Alam, Additional Deputy Inspector General of CID. Representatives of different development organisations, senior police officers and senior journalists were also present at the meeting.

Md Shariful Hasan, programme head, BRAC Migration Programme, presented the keynote article at the event. Analysing the situation from different angles he said that there is no definite statistics about the exact number of Bangladeshis currently staying illegally in Europe. However, a European Union delegation during their Dhaka visit in this April stated that around 80 thousand illegal Bangladeshi migrants are currently stating in Europe. The European Commission statistics office Eurostat states that in 2008-2015 period 93,435 Bangladeshis were staying illegally in the European countries. This number should cross 100 thousand if the account of the first six years of current year is added to 2008-2015 account.

NHRC chair Kazi Reazul Hoque at the programme said, 'It is true that we have an excellent law formulated in 2012. About the same time law was passed against money laundering. But certainly question is there about the extent of their proper implementation.'

'According to the police, only 30 convicts have been given life imprisonment so far out of 3500 human trafficking cases,' he further said, observing pointing out a number of weaknesses in the present manner of dealing with such cases. 'Many times the court does not have anything to do against the perpetrators because the police give flawed reports.' 'No matter how the incidents took place it is our responsibility to protect human rights,' the NHRC chair stressed, 'the state must take responsibility'. He suggested that the government may undertake making a shortlist of 25 top 'godfathers' to chase and nab them.

Professor C R Abrar said, 'We must keep in mind that the human traffickers in both country and abroad are a highly powerful coterie. We have to be have sufficient preparation to bring them to book.'

Expatriate welfare additional secretary Jabed Ahmed said, 'Reducing the cost of migration is still the biggest challenge. When someone migrates spending an excess amount of money, in the urge of recovering that expenses many times they become irregular.'

He stressed on strong coordination among the home ministry, foreign affairs ministry, commercial aviation and other relevant ministries to prevent human trafficking.

BRAC senior director Asif Saleh presented the recommendations of the consultation meeting, saying 'We should focus on four main issues to prevent human trafficking: Ensuring accountability of the law enforcement agencies, utrilising the mass media to raise mass awareness, ensuring follow-up of legal cases and ensuring strong coordinator among the relevant ministries.'

Expatriates welfare and oversees employment ministry's deputy chief K M Ali Reza, development practitioner Asif Munir, additional police super of anti-human trafficking cell of Bangladesh Police Masura Begum, and Rapid Action Battalion deputy director Abdullah Al Maruf also spoke among others.

Speakers also told the meeting that in the early July this year around 2,000 illegally travelling Bangladeshis have become stuck in Turkey en route to Europe. The scenario becomes even bleaker when the illegal travel to Malaysia and Thailand through dangerous sea routes and the mass graves recently discovered in those countries are considered. Malaysia has already started its operation against illegal immigrants, while Saudi Arabia is taking its preparation. According to the expatriates welfare and oversees employment ministry, around 800 thousand (8 lakh) Bangladeshi migrants returned for lacking legal documents.

The speakers further said Bangladesh's status in the annual report of the US foreign affairs ministry published this has gone one step down. In this report the relevant countries are divided in three tiers. In last five years Bangladesh was in Tier-2, while this year it has been positioned one step down to Tier-2-Watch List along with 45 other countries including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Pakistan, Thailand and Hong Kong. This scenario is a really worrying one particularly at this juncture when Bangladesh is poised for upgrading itself to a middle-income country and aspires to establish a strong safe migration process.

Referring to International refugee Organisation, the speakers said in last ten years around 150 thousand Bangladeshis have been the victim of illegal trafficking through Bay of Bengal routes. Of then at least 1500 died in the sea. Of the over 200 dead bodies recovered from the mass graves of Malaysia and Thailand, many were of Bangladeshi citizens. According to the information from the Bangladesh foreign affairs ministry and International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the government returned 2,183 Bangladeshis, of whom 183 are children. According to the police headquarters, since the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2012 was passed around 3500 cases were filed. But the victims complain that most of these cases are seriously delayed.

Country-Representative-of-BRAC-in-Liberia-receiving-the-medal-from-Her-Excellency-President-Sirleaf-frontCountry-Representative-of-BRAC-in-Liberia-receiving-the-medal-from-Her-Excellency-President-SirleafCountry Representative of BRAC in Liberia receiving the medal from Her Excellency President Sirleaf

BRAC in Liberia was honoured by the President of Liberia, Her Excellency Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, during the celebrations marking the 170th Anniversary of the independence of Liberia. The investiture ceremony took place on 25 July, 2017 at the C. Cecil Dennis, Jr. Auditorium in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.

President Sirleaf, herself the Grand Master of the Order of Distinction of the Republic of Liberia, admitted BRAC into the Humane Order of Africa Redemption and conferred the Grade of “Knight Commander” in consideration of the contributions of BRAC to alleviate poverty in Liberia. Mainuddin Ahmed, the Country Representative of BRAC in Liberia, received the medal on behalf of BRAC.

The-Knight-Order-Certification-for-BRAC-in-LiberiaThe Knight Order Certification for BRAC in Liberia

The President recognised and publicly appreciated BRAC’s contributions to the socio-economic development of Liberia through multi-sectoral programmes which have spurred economic recovery and growth over the past ten years.

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Jim Kim

Dr Jim Kim and international development community hail BRAC as a global leader in ending extreme poverty


On Sunday, 23 July 2017, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson, BRAC shared the stage with Dr Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group at the annual RESULTS International Conference held in Washington, DC.

At the plenary titled Going the Last Mile, Dr Joanne Carter, executive director of RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund, recognised Sir Fazle and Dr Kim as two global leaders and practical visionaries who did “what the world had said was too hard or even impossible”, played a critical role in fighting tuberculosis, and had what it will take to get to the last mile in ending extreme poverty.


Sir Fazle talked about the motivation behind BRAC’s globally successful graduation programme; reaching those trapped in ultra poverty.


Dr Kim emphasised the need for governments today to invest in their own people and move away from supply-driven investments to demand-driven investments.

Both Sir Abed and Dr Kim highlighted the role that women can play in fighting poverty, and the need to mobilise them as ‘agents of change’ for poverty alleviation.


In his closing remarks, Dr Kim expressed his concern of rising aspirations everywhere;

 “We are racing against time and the sense of urgency we have today is greater than it was ever before,” he said. “We have to get better at thinking about the foundations of human solidarity. We have to find a way forward. We have to commit and recommit to equality of opportunity,” he concluded.


Representatives from BRAC presented the details of their graduation programme in a separate panel with panellists from the University of New Hampshire, Uplift and the RESULTS Educational Fund. This session provided the opportunity to understand the various forms of social protection and livelihood programmes and the need to make such programmes more comprehensive, adaptive and scalable in order to reach the extreme poor and provide them with better support to help escape poverty sustainably.

 

Thursday, 08 June 2017 00:00

Celebrating diversity in Sierra Leone

Liberia-celebrating-diveristy-frontLiberia-celebrating-diveristyBRAC in Sierra Leone celebrating diversity

Liberia-football-team-on-Diversity-DayBRAC in Sierra Leone football team on Diversity Day

BRAC in Sierra Leone celebrated the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development across the country. All area offices, branch offices and the country office got involved for the occasion.

The country office celebrated the day at the famous Aberdeen/Lumley Beach with cultural events, food, and sports and games. Representatives from each ethnic group in our offices talked about their cultural practices, norms and values of their respective tribes, followed by music and dancing.

The staff partook in various sports and games afterwards, including football, volleyball, musical chairs, Ludo and more.

Liberia-ED-visit-Cash-for-work-CFW-frontLiberia-ED-visit-Cash-for-work-CFWBI ED visit Cash for work (CFW) site at Airport branch

The executive director for BRAC International, Mr Faruque Ahmed visited BRAC in Liberia from May 9, 2017 to May 12, 2017. During this time, he visited several project sites and met with some of the beneficiaries and staffs of the programmes, including microfinance, early childhood development and cash for work.

Liberia-BRAC-Int-ED-demonstrateBRAC Int.l Executive Director demonstrate mount preparation for Cassava

Mr Ahmed met with Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to discuss how BRAC can provide a platform for the Government to achieve their goals. He also held meetings with various other Government officials and donors in the trip, including the Minister of State for Presidential Affair Mr Slyvester M. Grigsby, the Minister of Agriculture and the Ambassador and Delegates of European Union to Liberia.

Mr Ahmed concluded the trip by spending time with the team in Liberia and engaging in some lively discussions with the staff.

 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017 00:00

Radio Pollikontho wins ABU Awards

Ankhi-Palit-receives-award-frontAnkhi-Palit-receives-award

Community Radio Pollikontho (99.2 FM), an initiative of BRAC Community Empowerment Programme (CEP) has been honoured with the ABU (Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union) Awards on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.

Ankhi Palit, the producer of Community Radio Pollikontho received best radio feature international award in the category of “Disaster Risk Reduction“ in a competition of the broadcasters organised by Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).

The award was given in recognition of the best production and presentation of a community radio feature titled: “Follow Earthquake Practices and save yourself.” Ankhi Palit produced the programme following a radio script prepared by Biplob Kanti Dev, another producer of Radio Pollikontho.

Martuza Ahmed, hon’ble secretary of the Ministry of Information handed over the prize to Ankhi Palit on 10 May 2017 at a Gala night held at Bangabandhu International Conference Center, Dhaka. Radio Pollikontho is the only recipient of this award from Bangladesh.

The ABU recognises the best productions in radio and television categories every year to encourage inspiring stories across the globe on climate change adaptation, disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction. Hasanul Haque Inu MP, hon’ble minister for Ministry of Information, & Dr. Javed Mottagi, secretary general, the Asia - Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) and all participants of 3rd ABU Media Summit were present during the Gala Awards Ceremony. This is annual competition honours the best Radio and Television programme on climate change adaptation, disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction. The competition has two radio and two television categories and two special awards.

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 programmes are designed to address socio-economic issues within the community, prioritising on women and children. Currently, 729 listeners clubs have been formed to ensure greater community engagement with the radio station. It is mentionable that in 2015, it won `The ABU Prize’, organised by Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, for the radio programme on autism called Tobuo Shopno (ray of hope). It won Meena Media Awards of UNICEF Bangladesh, in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 for its work in promoting child rights and children’s education in the media. It also won Family Planning Media Award 2013, organised by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in cooperation with UNFPA, for its programme called Shushasthya (Good Health).

Tuesday, 23 May 2017 00:00

Diversity Day 2017

diversity-2017-frontdiversity-2017WE ARE BRAC!

BRAC International celebrated World Cultural Diversity Day on May 21, 2017, across its countries, as well as at the head office in Dhaka. The staff in Dhaka was joined by the second batch of international Young Professionals, who are visiting on training purposes.

diversity-2017-best-dressedMohammed Madaty as best dressed with his award

BI hosted a small ceremony where people were encouraged to dress up, representing a culture of their choice. It was a very colourful event with attires from all corners of the world. The event started with the Head of Communications, Ms. Shehzeen Chowdhury giving her take on diversity, explaining how BRAC International gains its strength through the presence of various ideas and thoughts from different cultures and traditions. Her sentiments were echoed by more speakers who shared similar sentiments.

After talking about diversity for a bit, a vote was taken to establish who was the best dressed for the day. The winner was Mr. Mohamed Madaty, one of our Young Professionals from Tanzania. Mr. Madaty expressed his gratitude at winning the award and dedicated it all his colleagues.

BRAC International prides itself on its diversity and continues to foster an environment which is welcoming to people from all walks of life.

diversity-2017-ypBRAC International Young Professionals 2017

Wednesday, 17 May 2017 00:00

We mourn for Faruq Ahmed Choudhury

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(1934-2017)

BRAC deeply mourns at the demise of Mr Faruq Ahmed Choudhury, former adviser and governing body member of BRAC. He passed away on May 17, 2017 at 4.30 am, in Square Hospital, Dhaka at the age of 83.  He left behind his wife, a son and a daughter.

Mr Faruq Ahmed Choudhury, was born in January 4, 1934 in Assam, India. Throughout his successful career, he served the Bangladesh Government for two decades and occupied the roles of foreign secretary and ambassador.

He joined BRAC as an advisor in 1992 and continued to work with BRAC until 2006. His contribution played a key role in BRAC’s expansion and growth. He was also a governing body member of BRAC, a trustee board member of BRAC University and the chairman of Delta-BRAC housing company.

As an eminent columnist, he received popularity for his publications on socio-economic and political issues. He received IFIC Bank Literature Award in 2014 and Bangla Academy Literature Award in 2016.

rs-front-rallyOn 13 May, bus drivers and transport association leaders at the Mohakhali bus terminal took pledges to keep the speed of their vehicles below 30 kilometre per hour while passing schools, hospitals, residential areas and on roads with mixed traffic of non-motorised vehicles and pedestrians. A total of 5000 bus drivers, transport association leaders, operators and administrators are expected to take part in this week-long activity.

 

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Scene from the Mohakhali bus terminal on the first day of the pledge-taking ceremony

This is part of a campaign that was organised by BRAC on the eve of United Nation Global Road Safety Week 2017 which was observed during May 8 - 14 across the world. This year's UN road safety campaign theme was "Save Lives - #SlowDown".

 

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From left: Ahmed Najmul Hussain (director of BRAC's road safety programme), Ratanawadee Winther (Asian Injury Thailand's chairperson), Md Moshiar Rahman (chairman of BRTA) and Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mikael Hemniti Winther

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) chairman Md Moshiar Rahman inaugurated the event, followed by a discussion on the significance of the week at the south plaza of National Parliament. Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mikael Hemniti Winther, Asian Injury Thailand chairperson Ratanawadee Winther, BRAC Road Safety programme's director Ahmed Najmul Hussain and its advocacy programme's director KAM Morshed, among others were also present.

This was followed by a motor cycle rally involving 200 bikers who carried colourful flags, placards and banners that boldly displayed UN's campaign slogan. During the rally, they engaged with drivers of buses, cars and three-wheelers to spread the message of slowing down speeds to prevent loss of lives.

 

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200 members of the Road Riderz motorbike group helped stage the rally

BRTA's chairman said the high speed is the key reason behind deadly accidents. Safe speed of vehicles could help save hundreds of lives every year.

Winther said the campaign will draw the attention of the policy makers about the burning issues related to road safety and will develop simple, low-cost interventions to address these. He urged the drivers for going slow, saving lives of both others and themselves.

 

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The 35 kilometre rally started from the National Parliament building and ended at Bashundhara residential area

Najmul Hussain stated that BRAC for years has been raising community awareness about road safety, training drivers and driving instructors, and doing research to improve road safety in Bangladesh.