Essential health care (EHC) is the foundation of BRAC's health programme, combining promotive, preventive and basic curative services. EHC has revolutionised the primary healthcare approach in Bangladesh, reaching millions with low cost basic health services through BRAC's frontline community health workers.

EHC aims to improve reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health along with the nutritional status of women and children. The programme further aims to reduce vulnerability to infectious, communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases. The programme provides primary healthcare services including maternal and child healthcare, basic treatment for acute respiratory infections (ARIs) and promotes family planning methods and safe delivery practices. Use of proper sanitation, safe drinking water, hygiene-specific messages are also disseminated among communities.

The EHC programme has partnered with different government agencies under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to observe national health-specific days and events of instruction across the country. Collaboration with the government to promote family planning, immunisation of children and distribution of vitamin A capsules within communities are a few of the many successes of the programme.

Currently the programme is operating in all 64 districts of the country and delivering healthcare services to over 120 million people, in turn serving as a platform for other health interventions.

Essential Health Care Programme for CFPR-TUP

In Bangladesh, 8 per cent of the population is suffering from extreme poverty. Their health status lags far behind that of the general population. Essential Health Care (EHC) services for the ultra-poor under Challenging the frontiers of poverty reduction – Targeting the ultra poor programme (CFPR-TUP) is specially designed to meet the needs of extremely poor households unable to access or benefit from traditional development interventions.

The goal of the programme is to reduce the vulnerability of the poor and ultra-poor to sudden health problems and to prevent them from sliding back into the vicious cycle of extreme poverty.

The programme aims to increase access to health services, through demand-based strategies and by providing a package of basic health services which meets the needs of the ultra-poor.

The financial constraint of the ultra pooris a major impediment in accessing available health services. To address this problem BRAC has introduced the provision of financial assistance to the ultra-poor so that they can access medical care from government or other health facilities.

Community participation is ensured in the programme through community forums (Gram Daridro Bimochon Committee) which form an organised network for the improvement of health and the social status of the rural poor in each village. Committee members actively provide motivation and financial support to the ultra-poor for accessing different health services.