For far too long, communities in vulnerable situations have viewed quality healthcare as a luxury which would require travelling long distances and spending vast sums of money. Through our Essential Health Care (EHC) programme, we ensure that millions of households across the country have access to a mix of effective and affordable healthcare services through our frontline community health volunteers (known as Shasthya Shebika).

Adopting the ‘barefoot doctor’ approach used in China, we were the first to recruit and train local women to promote family planning services and provide health and hygiene education in our Sulla programme in Sylhet during the 1970s. Despite training community health volunteers ever since, it wasn't until 1991, when a major expansion finally established this integrated approach. Generating sustainable, local solutions, the model has grown gradually from serving 1.6 million people to currently serving 110 million people across 61 districts.

During their household visits, our Shasthya Shebikas (SS) provide health promotion sessions and educates families on a range of health issues. During this time they also carry their health commodity basket and take basic products to people’s doorstep in return for a nominal fee. Their health commodity basket includes basic medicines, sanitary napkins, and hygiene products. Our SS also work as a crucial point for our nationwide referral network with government and BRAC’s health centres respectively for complicated cases. Our EHC service package includes health and nutrition education and water and sanitation education, family planning and pregnancy-related care, management of common communicable and non-communicable diseases, curative care for common ailments and community mobilisation for immunisation. Communities are also linked to national programmes such as vitamin A supplementation and family planning through the EHC channels.