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Law Desk (LD): Could you tell us about the background of the study titled 'Justice Needs and Satisfaction in Bangladesh, 2018: Legal Problems in Daily Life'?

Farisa Kabir (FK): Jointly published by HiiL (a Netherlands based organisation) and BRAC, the report talks about legal problems in daily life of the people of Bangladesh. A nationwide survey on justice needs and satisfaction was conducted aiming to make the demand for justice in Bangladesh transparent and to outline what people of our country mean by their notion of justice.

Also they talked about how people see their justice journey. The questions here include, if a person is in a legal trouble how do they want to solve the problem? Where do they go first? Who do they consult? Do they seek informal services? Do they seek professional help? Are they satisfied with that professional help?

As their local co-coordinating partner, we assisted in conducting some of the interviews. HiiL did most of it by conducting 6000 interviews in all districts across Bangladesh among randomly selected adults in August and September 2017.

LD: What were the main findings of this study?

FK: The main findings of the study, very briefly, were that 4 out of 5 adults in Bangladesh faced one or more legal problems during the past 4 years. They have also identified three main legal problems people face, land disputes being the frontrunner. There are roughly 8 million people who are facing land disputes, after that there is neighbourhood conflicts that comes up to about 6.8 million per year. Then you have crime which is about 3.8 million per year. HIIL has categorised these 3 as the most serious current legal problem in Bangladesh. There is also lack of legal awareness. The main barrier to people not seeking legal advice is the belief that it will not make a difference.

LD: What is BRAC doing to make justice more accessible?

FK: BRAC runs a legal aid programme which has coverage in 61 districts in Bangladesh. Through these clinics we try to give local solutions; we have seen people prefer out-of-court settlements. Most of our clients are women, women who have come for divorce, who have faced torture for dowry, or who have been divorced and now are seeking maintenance. What we offer is solution to their problems through these legal aid clinics. We have conducted about 15,000 mediation in 2017 and on average we receive about 20,000 requests a year.

LD: There are 33 lakh cases pending in courts. Do you think we should think and act differently in regards to the backlog of cases?

FK: It is high time to think about justice differently. It's not just sitting in a room and blaming people; lawyers, bench officers, judges, infrastructure or anything or anyone else. We are at such a stage where we need to think how we can solve legal problems differently. We need to think about justice system, legal aid, and hybrid justice models.

The system should not be about adding more people to it or giving more resources, but going forward thinking about legal problem as a whole. We can think of mediation, formal arbitration mechanism for the poor, forums chaired by retired lawyers and judges, etc. We have to have a mechanism for everybody regardless of their socio-economic class.

Regarding this current backlog, there needs to be more analysis as to understand the nature of these 33 million cases. I think it is also important to understand problems of the people from their perspective, to understand their needs and think about how to create alternatives to the justice system.

LD: Is the current system of justice, formal and informal, catering to the justice needs of the people?

FK: This is a tricky question. It depends on who the client is. There is no end to effort from people, government, NGOs, civil society members to try and solve the problems. I think instead of trying to solve an existing problem we need to create branches to relieve the pressure of the formal system.

A core message of the study is that, a more effective and innovative solution could be implemented if the citizens are at the center of the reform. It also suggests the problems be considered at macro levels and solutions are implemented where people interact with justice mechanisms. Lastly, there should be justice innovation, which is about the redesign and improvement of justice journeys.

LD: Thank you for your time.

FK: You are welcome.

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The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has awarded its annual development award of 2018 to BRAC for its continued humanitarian support programme for the Rohingya people who have taken shelter in Bangladesh.

OFID, the development platform of the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has been giving this award since 2006.

BRAC has launched the largest civil society response in support of the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals of Rohingya community who took shelter in Bangladesh in the aftermath of the incidents of 25 August 2017. BRAC's response programme is meeting the immediate needs of the vulnerable people, while building skills, resilience and awareness that will facilitate their long-term wellbeing as the situation evolves.

The 2018 OFID Annual Award for Development comes with a monetary reward of US$100,000. BRAC will use the award money to provide further support to Rohingya women and children.

Since launching its response activities, BRAC has provided over 660,000 people with at least one form of critical support. It is working closely with the government of Bangladesh, the United Nations, and local and international organisations, and will continue to provide a range of services through its integrated, community-based approach. BRAC has so far mobilised around US$37 million from different partners in its efforts to strengthen the humanitarian work in Cox’s Bazar where the Rohingya people have been given shelter.

The award was presented by Dr Carlos Alberto Patricio Játiva Naranjo, Ecuador’s head of delegation and OFID governor, ambassador and representative to the Vienna-based international organisation.

Accepting the award Dr Mushtaque Chowdhury, the vice chairperson of BRAC, said. "We at BRAC are delighted to accept the OFID Annual Award for 2018."

"This will inspire us and many others to move forward with added zeal and commitment. The monetary award will be used to further support Rohingya women and children," he further said.

OFID Director-General Suleiman J Al-Herbish remarked: "This year’s award aims to help shed light on the Rohingya crisis and recognise one particular organisation for standing strong in the face of injustice." He added that BRAC "empowers the vulnerable and helps them bring about positive change in their lives by creating opportunities."

"Presenting this award to BRAC is consistent with OFID’s approach – through its Grants Program – of responding to the needs of the world’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, and addressing the underlying root causes of poverty in developing countries," he added.

It is estimated that over 700,000 refugees have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 2017. BRAC has provided lifesaving services at scale in the sectors where it is currently a leading provider, such as water and sanitation, health and child protection, and has contributed substantially to others, including education, shelter and nutrition.

Past winners of the OFID Annual Award for Development include, among others, the Foundation for Integral Development in Guatemala; the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Egypt; and Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.

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The Global Week of Action on Road Safety was observed in 21-27 May this year. On this occasion Child Health Initiative, an international organisation focusing on child health, stressed the importance of reducing road traffic crashes to improve the overall status of public health at the UN World Health Assembly in New York. The organisation also highlighted the issue at the recent conference of International Transport Forum held in Leipzig, Germany. They called on the non-governmental organisations to observe Global Week of Action on Road Safety this year upholding children's right to safe road.

Responding to the call the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety observed the week across the world. As a member of the Alliance BRAC organised a series of programmes during the week call on the nation to work together to improve road safety for our children. FIA Foundation, an international organisation promoting creative initiatives to ensure road safety, supported BRAC in organising these events.

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To observe the week BRAC Road Safety Programme organised drawing competitions for children in schools in and outside Dhaka focusing on the issue of road safety. A signature campaign was also organised in which transport owners and workers, teachers and employees of different government and private organisations took part, pledging that they would do their best to ensure road safety from their respective positions. BRAC social media platforms also ran a campaign with road safety awareness messages and stressing the significance of the week.

For Bangladesh the observance of this week is particularly important because every year a large number of children die and become injured in road traffic crashes. Many of these road crashes occur during their commuting to school. According to an estimate of 2016, every year 5,000 children, with an average of 14 children every day, die in road traffic crashes. Many of these children lost their life while on their way to or from school.

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Employment generation will be the major challenge in the forthcoming national budget of fy2018-19, people responding in a recent countrywide pre-budget survey viewed. To ensure robust national development, they also stressed stronger and effective spending in five areas, namely education, health and medical care, roads building and maintenance, adequate subsidies in agriculture, and establishment of more industrials units and factories.

BRAC and Institute of Informatics and Development (IID) conducted the survey as a part of a study to identify the people's priority areas in the next national budget and review the progress of the implementation of the budget of the outgoing fiscal of 2017-18. The survey was conducted in all the 64 districts with participation of 3,846 randomly selected respondents.

Among the areas and issues the respondents gave most emphasis are: in education sector stipends and allowances for students (25%), supply of books and other education materials (24%), and establishing schools, madrassahs and colleges (18%); in health sector low cost treatment facility (42%), establishing hospitals and clinics (19%), and healthcare for the poor (12%); in agriculture sector supply of farming equipment and inputs in low cost (63%), low interest micro-loans (16%) and marketing facilities for farm produces (5%); in social security sector allowances for senior citizens (35%), shelter for the homeless (17%), and widow allowances (9%); in disaster preparedness sector appropriate measures for timely disaster forecast (47%), health and medical care both during and after disasters (10%), and building embankments to protect lives and resources against floods and storm surges (9%); and in migration sector increasing government assistance at the local level (34%), easy loan facility (21%) and increasing information flow from the government at the village level (20%).

The study report expects that money flow may increase with a reduction in revenue earning in the new budget coinciding with the next general election. Having analysed the budgets and their spending trends, the report said that the budget of fy2018-19 will be an election budget. The revenue earning might decrease, while the government spending will rise during the first six months, leading to an increased internal borrowing, such as borrowing from the banks. The overall situation may have a negative impact on the national economy.

The study also forwards three recommendations, based on a review of the spending of the budget of the outgoing fiscal and people's priorities as reflected in the survey:

  1. Give priority to aligning budget allocations along the social sectors according to the demands of the country's financial development and SDG targets to be achieved by 2030
  2. Strengthen private enterprises' participation under public-private partnership (PPP) in realising big projects, and
  3. Utilise public money and other resources, establish and strengthen transparency in public spending, and ensure timely and proper implementation of public sector development projects to ensure continued socio-economic progress of the country, particularly to effectively deal with the challenges Bangladesh may face in the coming years after it graduates to the club of developing countries from that of the least developed countries (LDCs).

These Heroines of Health are inspiring the next generation of global health workers 

At the World Health Assembly this year, GE Healthcare and Women in Global Health, a movement that strives for greater gender equality in global health leadership, are joining forces to honor and celebrate women in global health. 2018 Heroines of Health, Professor Sabina Faiz Rashid and Professor Malabika Sarker are being honored this year for their work with vulnerable populations in Bangladesh. Both have strong academic backgrounds; Sabina is the first female Dean of the BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, appointed in 2013, and Malabika is the first female Director of Research. Their partnership and collaboration is key to their leadership and is inspiring the next generation of global health workers. Their research has offered the world invaluable learning on topics such as community health workers, sexual and reproductive health, non-communicable disease, urban health, health systems, HIV – and beyond. 

Tell us more about the work that you do with your organizations

Sabina: I head the BRAC School of Public Health in Bangladesh. We have transformed our Masters of Public Health (MPH) so that students learn first-hand in the community. My colleague and friend of over twenty years, Professor Malabika Sarker, shares my vision to transform public health advocacy for developing world needs. I have also focused on gender, sexual and reproductive health, and the health needs of people in urban slums. In 2008, I established a Centre for Gender and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights with seed funding from a UN organization, pushing for laws to stop child marriage; providing a safe space for LGBTQI communities and working to develop online resources on sensitive topics that bypass traditional gatekeepers such as parents and teachers. I also established the Centre for Urban Health and Equity in Dhaka, a city of 16 million with 5 million poor. Slum settlements remain invisible to the state – there is no comprehensive urban policy, and the poor lack housing rights, basic services, and suffer from the worst health indicators.

MalabikaI teach, conduct research, and oversee research activities as Director of Research. I coordinate and teach various modules, such as the implementation research and a reproductive health course. I also lead the Center of Excellence for Science of Implementation and Scale Up committed to evidence generation. As a member of the senior management committee, I also oversee the finance and human resource in partnership with the Dean of the school. I regularly mentor 27 researchers working with me on several research projects. For several years, I also worked as a public health physician in BRAC, the largest Non-Government Organization in the world. After completing my doctorate, I startedworking as a researcher/teacher which I’ve now been doing for 13 years.

How did you get involved in this work; what was your inspiration? 

Malabika: When I was 17, I got married. It was an arranged marriage. My husband and my father decided that I should go to medical school even though I was interested in studying Physics or Mathematics. After a year-long training as an obstetrician and gynecologist post-medical school, I started my career as a community-based reproductive health programmer.  One of my primary services was menstrual regulation (MR), which is what abortion is called in Bangladesh.  I was surprised by the number of women who came for MR given the availability of free contraceptives. I realized that the availability of a service does not ensure its acceptability, and I became interested in the social factors which determine health. I then joined BRAC where I worked on a community-based maternal mortality reduction project, and so my journey in public health started.

Sabina: When I was 23 years old I got a job at BRAC’s research division in a village called Comilla in Bangladesh. I’d never been to a village before and six months in that village changed my perception of the poor. They were kind and hospitable, welcoming me and my questions with humor and patience. They taught me that local practices were often pragmatic decisions, made with little money and with traditional home practices often the first line of healthcare. Solutions I’d read in books were not so easily applied in real life and I found that the actual needs and priorities in the community were not always heard. This was my motivation. Following this experience, I decided to do my Master’s in primary research on poor women who were using a type of female contraceptive implant in Bangladesh. Many remained uninformed of the implant, side effects and had to fight with doctors to have it removed.

Can you share a story that solidified why you got into this line of work?

Malabika: When I was working for BRAC in Bangladesh, they launched a ‘maternity waiting home’ (MWH) for pregnant women from the remote villages who were diagnosed with complications or thought to be at high risk. In 1993, Banu, a pregnant woman was admitted to the MWH. It was her ninth pregnancy and she had a history of abortion, stillbirth, and neonatal death. With four children, Banu was restless and kept talking about how her children would suffer without her. She left the waiting home after a day. Three days later, we got the news that Banu had been admitted to the hospital with obstructed labor. I ran to the hospital where I learned that the baby was dead and that Banu needed a craniotomy for delivery. Following the craniotomy, when Banu gained consciousness, she left the hospital and the nurses didn’t know where she was. We immediately went looking for her but by the time I reached Banu’s house, I received the news that Banu had passed away as she tried to walk the six kilometers. This was an extremely traumatic experience for me that made me realize the complexity and value of public health and how simply addressing the clinical need of a patient isn’t enough. 

Sabina: A life-changing moment for me that also solidified why I got into this line of work was when I spent 15 months conducting ethnographic research in slum settlements in Dhaka city, studying the lives of married and unmarried adolescent girls and their sexual and reproductive health needs. Adolescent women and their families there spoke of a constant worry that pervaded their daily lives and resulted in palpitations, insomnia, chest pains, fevers, and other ailments. I began to reflect on how their experiences challenge our dominant model of health interventions, which are biomedical and disease oriented. Do we often blame the poor for the lack of improvement in their lives, for not accessing appropriate services, or not being compliant about taking certain medications or for certain practices that are deemed as backward, without understanding their social worlds? I realized that public health needs to have a comprehensive approach to meet the needs of the most marginalized. I also learned very quickly that reproductive and sexual health for many of the urban poor adolescent women was much broader; it was the absence of social, economic and political rights that impacted created adverse health conditions. I returned to Bangladesh and joined BRAC School of Public Health. Their mission was in alignment with my growing passion to work in an institution that was committed to improving the lives of disadvantaged communities, especially poor women and children.

What’s the greatest piece of advice someone ever gave you?

Sabina: Whenever I felt intimidated by the brilliant and inspiring individuals who I met, my father, who was always very supportive of me, would say: “Sabina, 99% is aspiration, 1% is inspiration”.  Basically, that you don’t have to be brilliant to make a difference, just work hard, remain sincere, committed, and passionate about what you do, and your work will speak for itself. 

MalabikaBe curious, engage, and involve”.

Professor Sabina Faiz Rashid and Professor Malabika Sarker are two of nine women being recognized at this year’s World Health Assembly as part of the Heroines of Health honors. Learn more about the 2018 Heroines of Health here.

 

GE Healthcare and Women in Global Health are honoring nine women changing the face of healthcare

For the second year in a row, at the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, GE Healthcare and Women in Global Health – a movement that strives for greater gender equality in global health leadership – are joining forces to celebrate and honor nine women for their commitment and achievements in global health at this year’s Heroines of Health awards. 

Heroines of Health seeks to highlight women’s significant contribution to healthcare, as women continue to make up a comparatively small percentage of global health leadership, despite holding 70 percent of jobs in global healthcare1. Ministries of Health, particularly in developing markets, are looking to improve both access to healthcare and maternal and infant health outcomes and female leaders have been shown to be more likely to support the development of health facilities, antenatal care, and immunization programs, leading to outcomes as direct as improving infant mortality2

These awards highlight the significant contribution women have on healthcare by telling the stories of the women who work tirelessly every day to improve global health with tremendous dedication and passion.

Here are this year’s Heroines of Health:

1. She’s saving children’s lives in the face of war

Dr. Najla Al-Sonboli is the head of the Pediatric Department of Al-Sabeen Hospital for Maternity and Children; the biggest tertiary referral pediatric hospital in Yemen, receiving patients from an area with nearly 4 million people, half of whom are displaced due to the war. Najla works tirelessly to provide essential medical care to save babies and children’s lives, organizing staff to provide voluntary services with minimal resources and being responsive to new challenges.
[Read More]

2. Her work changed scoliosis treatment for all children in Ireland

Claire Cahill is the co-founder of The Scoliosis Advocacy Network in Ireland, supporting over 650 families whose children live with scoliosis. The aim is to ensure that children have access to timely assessments and care and to build a community for all children who live with scoliosis In Ireland. Claire has campaigned tirelessly to see the lack of timely care recognized as a children’s rights issue.
[Read More]

 3. Anne is fighting to scale up HIV services in South Sudan

Anne Kinuthia leads a team tasked with introducing and scaling up HIV services in South Sudan and has successfully rolled out HIV testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and HIV treatment services in different regions of the country. She has also supported the Ministry of Health and the South Sudan AIDS Commission to develop the necessary guidelines and strategic plan to inform HIV programming in the country.
[Read More]

4. After 30 years in global health, this woman is ensuring the future is in good hands

Professor Rose Leke’s ground-breaking research encompasses broad areas of immunology, parasitology, and global health, with a particular focus on Malaria. She has also significantly contributed to polio eradication in Africa. Rose has shown tremendous leadership in advancing gender equality and empowering women in the field of public health, science, and research.
[Read More]

5. This nurse in Kenya is making sure all families in her community get access to quality care

Christine Mataza has been the nurse in charge for Kilifi sub-county, Kenya for the past 15 years, playing a key role in Kenya’s public health system. Her supportive supervision, drive, and tireless dedication to ensure that basic care is available to those who cannot afford access to private care is a source of inspiration in her community.
[Read More]

6. Her own story of strength is helping transform the lives of women and girls

Margaret Nakanjakko is often called “mummy” in her community for the tremendous support and dedication she shows to anyone needing her help. For nearly two decades, Margaret has worked with Reproductive Health Uganda, helping to improve the lives of thousands of young Ugandans by giving them the tools they desire to avoid unintended pregnancies, stay in school and live healthy, productive lives.
[Read More]

7. One hearing aid at a time, this woman is changing the lives of thousands

Audra Renyi founded earAccess; a social enterprise that is disrupting the hearing aid industry, providing hearing services (testing for hearing loss and hearing aids) that are significantly cheaper than comparable options. earAccess has been helping provide an affordable solution to hearing loss and hearing aids for the world’s most remote communities. Audra also helped grow World Wide Hearing, an NGO focused on helping children with hearing loss.
[Read More]

8. Meet the two professors working with vulnerable populations in Bangladesh

Professor Sabina Faiz Rashid and Professor Malabika Sarker are being honored as a pair for their work with vulnerable populations in Bangladesh. Both have strong academic backgrounds; Sabina is the first female Dean of the BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health and Malabika is the first female Director of Research at the school. Their partnership and collaboration is key to their leadership and is inspiring the next generation of global health workers. Their research has offered the world invaluable learning on topics such as community health workers, sexual and reproductive health, non-communicable disease, urban health, health systems, HIV – and beyond. 
[Read More]


 

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BRAC recently organised an international level training for the transport drivers of the Bangladesh Navy, focusing on awareness building and behavioural change for safe driving. 22 drivers of the Bangladesh Navy participated in the three-day-long training at BRAC's driving school in Uttara in the capital, starting on 22 April 2018.

The course appropriately combines hands-on training and theoretical knowledge with a special focus on the former.

BRAC undertook the training titled 'Road safety and safe driving training', in short 'Surokkha', in 2014, realising that raising awareness and capacity building are critical in reducing the extremely high rate of road crashes in Bangladesh. In this initiative, BRAC has partnered with Hubert Ebner Ltd, an internationally acclaimed organisation specialising in automobile driving training and road safety issues.

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Trainees are exposed to lessons related to safety measures on the road, techniques on self-protection while driving, and desired behavioural change. For the practical competency part of the training, drivers are tested on their ability to operate safely through the ‘P-Drive’ technique.

Under BRAC's road safety programme, BRAC Driving School similarly trained over 1,200 individuals so far. It has been observed that drivers who underwent the 'Surokkha' training were reported to have displayed considerable change in their behaviour in adapting to safe driving techniques.

Bangladesh Road and Transport Authority (BRTA), Dhaka Metropolitan Police and Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority in a recent news report attributed over 90 per cent road crashes to rash driving. Experts stress awareness raising and capacity building for skilled, safe and responsible driving to reduce the excessively high rate of road crashes.

A discussion session also took place during the training in which Lieutenant Commander Sanjida Hossain and Lieutenant Commander M Enayet Hossain were present. The speakers at the discussion emphasised that the drivers should mindfully apply their learning in the training while behind the steering wheel.

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Every year in Bangladesh, 31 million people confront with legal challenges. A majority of these challenges occur when dealing with neighbours, and the most complicated ones arise when dealing with land related issues. This was among the findings presented at the launching event of the report titled ‘Justice Needs and Satisfaction in Bangladesh 2018’ at the capital’s BRAC Centre today on Wesnesday (May 9, 2018).

This research was conducted and published in collaboration between Netherlands based nonprofit The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL), the Government of Netherlands, and BRAC. The framing questions for the research included what kind of legal dilemmas people face in Bangladesh, how they deal with those issues, who or which institutions they seek for help to resolve their concerns, and the level of responses they receive.

The study was conducted through in-depth qualitative interviews of around 6000 respondents who have randomly selected in 64 districts of the country. The study was conducted in August and September of 2017.

The chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Kazi Reazul Hoque, was present at the event as its chief guest. Also present as special guests were the head of Measuring Justice for HiiL, Dr Martin Gramatikov, and the quantitative justice data analyst of the same organisation, Martin Kind. Programme Head of BRAC's Human Rights and Legal Aid Services (HRLS) Sajeda Farisa Kabir moderated the ceremony.

The key highlights that came out from the study include: 31 million people face legal dilemmas every year. The major types of legal issues they face include, among others, issues with neighbours (40%), land disputes (29%), criminal offences (21%), family disputes (12%), money related issues (12%), social welfare (11%), consumer problems (9%), and accidents and personal injury (8%).

In terms of the severity of the issues, land related legal disputes come out on top of the rest. The severity of the problems as reported by percentage: land disputes (25%), neighbours (22%), crime (12%), family disputes (7%), money (7%), social welfare (5%), housing (4%), and accidents and personal injury (4%).

To ensure more effective dispute resolutions and ensure better justice mechanism a number of recommendations were drawn in the report, which include among others: prioritisation of legal problems to solve them, improve information delivery, design and provide affordable and accessible justice journeys for all, explore the full potential of hybrid justice mechanisms, justice innovation and digital innovation.

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Involvement of women in information and communication technology will significantly strengthen their social and economic empowerment. It will in turn have important contribution in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals particularly the SDG-5. However, the effort to meaningfully expand women's engagement in the ICT sector entails tackling a number of challenges including social and family hurdles, lack of required knowledge and skills, lack of inspiration and fear about security in the virtual space.

These observations were made today on Wednesday (25 April, 2018) in a study presentation on the obstacles for women's participation in the information and communication sector. It was presented at a discussion organised at the BRAC Centre in the capital. Shahid Uddin Akbar, chief executive officer of the Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development (BIID), delivered the presentation. BIID conducted the study for which 164 female students studying in different universities were interviewed.

Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, speaker of Bangladesh Parliament, was present at the event as the chief guest at the event with Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT and lawmaker, attending as special guest. BIID, BRAC, Plan International Bangladesh and Preneurlab jointly organised the programme on the occasion of International Girls in ICT Day to be observed on 26 April.

Tania Nusrat Zaman, head of child protection, Plan International Bangladesh, gave the welcome speech. KAM Morshed, director of Advocacy for Social Change, Technology and Partnership Strengthening Unit, BRAC, and Rabiul Alam Chowdhury, head of IT, Plan International, forwarded the recommendations to widen the scopes for women's participation in the sector.

The study observes that if women's participation in the ICT sector can be increased from the current 33.7 per cent to 82 per cent, it will result in 1.6 per cent more GDP growth. This achievement would help the country make stronger strides towards its SDG targets.

In this interview-based study three major challenges for ICT education for young women have been referred which are, bringing change in the perception of young women about ICT education, lack of knowledge and skills in ICT and lack of required skills to engage in the sector.

Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said in her speech stressed three areas of work to strengthen women's participation in ICT sector which are, undertaking focused effort to popularise the sector among women, recognise ICT as a specialised sector requiring specialised human resources and spread the message that it is a sector that will reconstruct the future.

"The government targets to ensure equal stake of men and women by 2030. To achieve the target the government has undertaken digitalisation initiatives with equal emphasis on the rural and urban areas, which will continue in future," he further said.

Emphasising IT education she suggested that 'IT scholarship' may be a convenient motivation to create awareness among students.

Zunaid Ahmed Palak said that to boost youth employment in the ICT sector the Bangladesh government will train 300 thousand youths, both men and women, by 2021. "We have reserved 20-30 per cent quota for women trainees in this initiative," he further said, pointing out that two million youth enter the country's job market every year.

Participants in the open discussion stressed updating of curriculums for ICT and digital technology education to broaden the equal opportunity space, motivating more women to actively participate in the sector and establishing women-friendly workplace.

High officials from the government and international organisations and representatives from the NGOs were also present at the event.

The International Telecommunication Union in collaboration with the United Nations has been celebrating the day on the fourth Thursday of April for some years now. Since 2011 more than 30 thousand women have been celebrating the day in 166 countries across the world.

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Press conference on World Malaria Day held

Three districts, Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari, are in considerable risk of malaria despite much has been achieved in checking the menace of the mosquito-borne disease. According to the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NECP), currently 93 per cent of the country's 29 thousand and 247 malaria patients are from these three districts. The major reasons for these districts to have most malaria patients are their hilly frontiers, profuse rain, large forest area, inadequacies in healthcare system and problems faced while reaching treatment and other healthcare services.

Experts revealed this information at a press conference today on Tuesday (24 April 2018) organised at the National Press Club in the capital. The government National Malaria Elimination Programme and BRAC organised the event on the occasion of World Malaria Day 2018 observed on 25 April.

The press conference was arranged to disseminate information on the future activities required to eliminate malaria, challenges in risk mitigation and recommendations as well as public awareness messages.

Director-general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad spoke as the chief guest of the event. Director of the government Disease Control unit and also line director of Communicable Disease Control unit Prof. (Dr) Sanya Tahmina, director of BRAC's Communicable Diseases, WASH and DMCC programmes Dr Md Akramul Islam, and head for its communicable diseases and WASH programmes Dr Moktadir Kabir also spoke among others.

DGHS epidemiologist Dr Md Mosiqure Rahman moderated the press conference.

DGHS deputy programme manager for malaria and Aedes transmitted diseases Dr MM Aktaruzzaman delivered the keynote presentation, highlighting the country's success in eliminating malaria.

The speakers pointed out that malaria, being one of the major public health problems of Bangladesh, plague its 71 upazilas of 13 districts, namely Rangamati, Khagrachari, Bandarban, Cox's Bazar, Chattagram, Sunamganj, Moulvibazar, Sylhet, Habiganj, Netrokona, Mymensingh, Sherpur and Kurigram.

It also mentioned that malarial deaths have much reduced lately, thanks to the collaborative efforts and effective measures by the government and non-governmental actors. While in 2014, 45 patients succumbed to the infection, in 2015 the number fell to only 9 (nine). However, 2016 saw a little rise in the number of deaths at 17, to drop again in 2017 to 13.

Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad said, "Our goal is to eliminate malaria completely from Bangladesh by 2030. To achieve this goal we are working to prevent the disease from occurring in eight among the 13 vulnerable districts, while make sure that 51 districts are entirely free from malaria."

Prof.(Dr) Sanya Tahmina said, "We have already produced a guideline for the travellers to the hilly regions that will help reduce their risk to contract malaria." The government has also undertaken an initiative to distribute 333 thousand mosquito nets to the hilly regions and among the Rohingya people who have taken refuge in Cox's Bazar after being forcibly evicted from Myanmar, she further said.

Dr Md Akramul Islam said, "As the world's largest non-governmental actor BRAC is resolutely extending the malaria elimination programme in the camps sheltering the Rohingyas."

The keynote presentation also highlighted some of the major challenges for malaria elimination: Shortage of physicians and healthcare professionals in the remote areas limiting the capacity for treatment and healthcare service delivery, people's increased mobility, increased risk of malarial infection in the border areas and climate change impacts.

To observe World Malaria Day 2018 a parade will be organised tomorrow on Wednesday, starting from Zero Point in the capital to end at CIRDAP. A discussion session will follow at 11am at the CIRDAP auditorium. Health and family welfare minister and lawmaker Md Nasim will be present at the discussion as the chief guest.

The theme of World Malaria Day 2018 is "Ready to beat malaria".

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