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10 February 2014, Dhaka. Grameenphone, in collaboration with BRAC, is going to provide 2.1 million free internet hours for school children. Inspired by Language Movement Day 21st February this programme will be starting this month.

This was announced today (February 10) in a programme arranged at Ali Hossain Girls High School, situated in West Dhanmondi. Under the initiative of “Internet for All” Grameenphone will provide 2.1 million free Internet hours to 250 schools around the country. Students of these schools will be able to use free internet in the Gonokendras, the multi-purpose community learning centres managed by BRAC at school premises. Grameenphone and BRAC recently signed an agreement under which BRAC will help Grameenphone to implement the programme on field level.

During the programme Sigve Brekke, chairman of Grameenphone Board and head of Telenor Asia discussed about the benefit of using internet with students. He emphasised on the awareness regarding internet and importance of using internet safely especially by the children. Later the students participated in a quiz programme. Asif Saleh, BRAC’s senior director of strategy, communication and capacity was present at the event. He thanked Grameenphone for this initiative and said that these initiatives would open a gateway of knowledge for the students to explore newer opportunities.    

Grameenphone’s Head of Corporate Communications, Tahmeed Azizul Huq, Engineer Sajedul Alam, acting Head Master of Ali Hossain Girls School were present on the occasion.
Grameenphone has an ambition to make Internet accessible for all Bangladeshi through its Internet for All initiatives.   Objective of this campaign is to create equal opportunity to access educational content, news, information and knowledge for all.

BRAC, the largest development organization in the world, currently has around two and a half thousand Gonokendras functioning in Bangladesh. These multi-purpose learning centers provide an intergenerational meeting space and offer a number of services for adults, children and students. They also preserve local historical items, operate mobile libraries for women and the elderly and run a Children’s Corner. 

BRAC’s vice-chair and interim executive director (ED), Dr Ahmed Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, attended the global launch of the Lancet series on Bangladesh in New York on 15 January 2014.  The event was held by the Bangladesh Permanent Mission to the UN, UNICEF and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Last year, the Lancet medical journal published a special research series highlighting accomplishments in Bangladesh’s health sector. Despite widespread poverty, exceptional improvements in maternal child health, immunisation coverage, and tuberculosis control were part of this remarkable success story. BRAC’s own health programme and extensive community-based health network were identified as crucial contributing factors to these achievements.

Major highlights of the event were a presentation on the significant findings from the series, followed by a panel discussion. Those attending the event included the special guest, Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr AKA Momen, Dr Abbas Bhuiya, co-author of the Lancet series, and 70 other guests including UN diplomats, academics, development partners, media representatives were present at the event.

Find the details on Lancet series:


16 January 2014, Dhaka. BRAC distributed 20,000 blankets in the coldest districts of northern and southern Bangladesh.

The first cold wave of this year hit the people of northern and southern part of the country the hardest, causing many to suffer.  BRAC promptly took the initiative to distribute blankets in 81 upazila under 13 districts.  During 12-16 January 2014, 1,000 blankets in Panchagarth; 2,000 in Nilphamari; 1,500 in Thakurgaon; 2,000 in Dinajpur; 1,500 in Joypurhut; 1,000 in Pabna; 1,500 in gaibandha; 1,000 in Lalmonirhat; 2,000 in Kurigram; 2,000 in Rangpur 2,000 in Jessore; 1,500 in Satkhira and 1,000 in Jamalpur have been distributed.

The blankets were distributed by regional managers, regional accounts managers of BRAC, the  district BRAC representatives from thirteen districts with support from local government officials.  The initiative has been supported by BRAC’s core fund.

In partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, BRAC Liberia has signed a global fund sub recipient consultancy contract with the Ministry.  The objective of this contract is to provide a framework which would allow the sub-recipient provide community based Tuberculosis (TB) Directly Observed Therapy (DOTs) services under the round ten Global Fund’s TB Grant. This will strengthen the TB control and management of people with TB/HIV co-infection in Liberia. The signing took place on December, 23 2013




Dr.  Mushtaque Chowdhury, professor of clinical population and family health  at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and founding  dean of BRAC University’s James P. Grant School of Public Health in  Bangladesh, has authored research in a Lancet Bangladesh  series of papers. “Overall, there has been a shift from the priority of  managing infectious diseases to where we are now – a focus on public  health programs to mitigate the effects of natural disasters and the  burgeoning of non-communicable diseases, especially in the country's  urban areas.” Launch of the Lancet series on Bangladesh will be held at the United Nations on January 15.



In  the article, “The Bangladesh Paradox: Exceptional Health Achievement  Despite Economic Poverty,” and the first in the series of six papers,  Dr. Chowdhury writes that Bangladesh has been commended as an  exceptional health performer. Especially noteworthy is the country’s  widespread deployment of community health workers, mostly female, to  bring high-priority services to every household in the country including  programs in family planning, immunization, oral rehydration therapy,  maternal and child health, tuberculosis, vitamin A supplementation, and  other activities. “However, while the country has achieved substantial  health advances, evidence shows that these achievements are  counterbalanced by steep and sustained reductions in birth rate and  mortality, the persistence of child and maternal malnutrition and the  low use of maternity-related services and some basic health services,”  he says.


And,  Bangladesh is likely to continue to face “the complex pushes and pulls”  of many social determinants, and future health challenges are already  becoming apparent, according to Dr. Chowdhury. While its health system  was shaped to address poverty-linked infectious, nutritional, and  maternity-related diseases, adjustments to the health system are needed  to tackle chronic non-communicable diseases. Dr. Chowdhury addresses the  need to overhaul Bangladesh's health system as a key first step in  reducing inequality in the provision of health services andisconvinced  that universal health coverage is the way forward for his country. The  “call to action” in this Lancet Series proposes that universal health  coverage (UHC) should be the ultimate goal for Bangladesh. Support from  the Mailman School of Public Health helped launch BRAC University’s  James P. Grant School of Public Health in Bangladesh in 2005. The School  was one of only four schools of public health in South Asia.


To read more, click here.


To listen to Dr. Chowdhury on the Lancet series, click here.


BRAC and Afghan Ministry examine children's rights

On 13 November 2013, BRAC signed a Memorandum of Understanding  with Afghanistan's Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled. The memorandum examines children's rights policies, codes of conduct, and other supporting legal materials regarding improving conditions of children. Under the memorandum, BRAC will be a member of the Child Protection Action Network in Afghanistan. The Ministry will also support all initiatives to protect and care for children in families and communities in Afghanistan where BRAC is active

In an event held at BRAC Centre on December 22, 2013, Secretary for Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Mr.M M Neazuddin mentioned that Vision Bangladesh project should be replicated all across the nation. Terming access to eye healthcare as a basic right of the people, he stressed on the need to excel eye care services for improved quality of life of the community people. He further mentioned that the Ministry will provide all out support for the implementation of this intervention. 

Vision Bangladesh Phase- I is a unique intervention implemented by BRAC and Sightsavers under the guidance of National Eye Care (NEC) which aims to avert preventable blindness through cataract surgery. The Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in implementing this project in the grassroots has created an example itself mirroring that such coordinated initiatives can bring about dramatic outcomes. 

According to Bangladesh National Blindness and Low Vision Survey 2000 about 750,000 adults aged above thirty years are completely blind out of which eighty percent are due to cataract related complications. The survey also mirrors that about five million people including children suffer from refractive errors.  Evidence suggests that about 90% of such blindness and low vision can be prevented with proper and timely management.

Dr. Kaosar Afsana, Director of BRAC’s Health, Nutrition and Population Programme mentioned that about 110,000 cataract surgeries were conducted in Sylhet division in phase-I and now the project is scaling up to 10 urban areas along with few selected rural districts. She further mentioned that NEC’s continuing support and guidance has made vision Bangladesh a successful role model in the eye care services. 

Prof. Dr. Deen Mohd. Noorul Haq Line Director, National Eye Care-DGHS and Director cum Professor, National Institute of Ophthalmology & Hospital mentioned that BRAC has shown remarkable progress in mobilizing and counselling patients in the rural area further stating that the target of 100,000 for three years cataract surgeries could not be reached before the end of project period without the extensive support of BRAC. 

Later a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between National Eye Care and BRAC which will allow BRAC to continue its operation in Sylhet division for addressing upcoming cataract cases and hard to reach areas.


By Sir Fazle Hasan Abed.  
Dhaka, 21 November,

"2013  Hon’ble President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh His Excellency Mr Md Abdul Hamid, Hon’ble Minister, Editor in Chief of the Lancet Dr Richard Horton, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon!
It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be here and chair the launch of the Lancet Series on Bangladesh. The Series as we have heard has portrayed Bangladesh’s achievements in the health sector over the past four decades. We are very proud of our achievements and also mindful of our responsibilities to keep the momentum going and bring better health and wellbeing to our people.

Many people here from the government, civil society, private sector have worked hard, and continue to do so, improving conditions for others. Rarely do we take the time to reflect on the gains we have made here in Bangladesh. It is worth doing so, for these gains are historically unprecedented. And I am convinced they are of value to other countries facing circumstances similar to what we experienced in our recent history.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are all witnesses to a health revolution!  

Within the lifetime of all of us, we have seen a quiet revolution in the quality of health in this country. It has been said that such rapid gains in quality of life have never been seen before – in the history of all humanity.  

To give but one example: Within recent memory, the situation was grim for an expectant mother in rural Bangladesh. In the 1990s, despite the gains we had seen since liberation, we still had a frighteningly high maternal mortality rate, comparable to what we see today in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. For every 100,000 live births in the country in 1990, we had 500 to 600 dying from complications during childbirth – usually for entirely preventable reasons.  

Now, in most parts of the country, we are likely to meet the Millennium Development Goal of bringing maternal mortality down to less than 150 deaths per 100,000 live births. There is still much to be done, of course. In Sri Lanka that rate is just 35, and in Norway it is 3.

Still, when combined with other gains, the progress is staggering. As I wrote in my commentary for this publication, maternal mortality has dropped 75% since 1980, infant mortality has more than halved since 1990, and life expectancy at birth has risen to 69 years. Such changes have almost no historical precedent. It is said that only Japan’s modernization in the 19th century, following the Meiji Restoration, can rival this change.  

So how did we do it? One answer is by turning to poor rural women to carry out the task of improving public health. And importantly, we worked on her terms. I will give an example. BRAC, took oral rehydration therapy to a national scale in the 1980s. Our mission was to put an end to needless deaths from children’s diarrhoea, one of the greatest killers.  

To combat this, we turned to the solution first reported in The Lancet in 1968, when this journal published the first results from a successful trial of oral rehydration therapy, which used a simple but precise mixture of water, sugar and salt to quickly rehydrate children suffering from diarrhoea.  

But when we tried to scale this up, we initially found that many rural women understandably didn’t recognize the concept of a “half litre of water.” Without that basic knowledge, it might seem difficult to mix the solution properly. And we knew that lack of precision in mixing the solution could be a dangerous thing.  

But what the women did know very well was their own household containers. So we began by asking them for the containers they normally use, and then we helped them scratch marks on them – so they knew exactly how much a half litre was.  

And of course there was much more trial and error. An initial evaluation found that only 6% of these women had retained and used the knowledge. So we went back again and refined the training. By 1990, we had reached 70% of the households in the country, and today nearly every Bangladeshi household use oral rehydration therapy.

I feel this story is important because it underscores the necessity of putting the most vulnerable patients – who are often rural women and their children – at the heart of public health interventions. Eventually we realised that gender equality and women’s rights would drive public health gains.  

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe this is true everywhere – in other parts of Asia, as well as in sub-Saharan Africa. Everywhere that women struggle, anyplace that poor people fall victim to preventable diseases, it is vital to put empowered women at the centre of the intervention.  

As we all have seen in Bangladesh, the result is a virtuous circle. Better health leads to prosperity, and prosperity in turn leads to better health.  

Based on this experience, I believe that the women of Bangladesh are a model for the world – and that the revolution we have seen in our lifetimes can be repeated elsewhere.  

Thank you Hon’ble President for gracing this event. Your presence means a lot to the efforts that the government, civil society, the private sector and, more importantly, the people are undertaking in creating a healthy and prosperous Bangladesh. May I also take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Lancet for publishing such an illuminating Series exclusively on our country.

Thank you."


Friday, 29 November 2013 18:00

One billion to rise in 2014

Every week in Bangladesh, more than 10 women suffer from some form of violence. In India, 22 women are killed every day in dowry-related murders, while in Sri Lanka, 60 per cent of women report having suffered physical abuse. Additionally, in Pakistan, more than 450 women and girls die every year in so-called “honour killings,” and incidents of human trafficking in Nepal are still highly prevalent.

Numerous women’s rights organizations and NGOs have taken the initiative to fight against violence and discrimination against women in South Asia. One Billion Rising (OBR), a global campaign to end violence against woman, took place on February 14, 2013. In Bangladesh approximately three million men and women gathered on the streets with support from over 400 organizations across 206 countries. 

On November 30, 2013, One Billion Rising for Justice (OBR4J), the second phase of the campaign, was launched in Bangladesh at the Shilpakala Academy, in Jatiya Natyashala, Dhaka. The launch was organised by Sangat, a South Asian feminist network and Nijera Kori, Bangladesh. The event included introductions from writer, feminist and coordinator of OBR’s South Asian chapter, Kamla Bhasin, and women’s rights activist and coordinator of OBR Bangladesh, Khushi Kabir. There was also a memorial for feminist activist, Sunila Abayasekara, announcement of the Meeto Memorial Award for social commitment, and songs dedicated to South Asian women and their struggles. 

Kamla Bhasin launched the South Asian chapter of the second phase of this campaign, calling on men and women to rise against injustice.  She said, “This is the greatest war ever, and violence against women cannot and will not be tolerated anymore. We have been fighting this battle for centuries, for decades and the time is put our concerted efforts [together].”  

OBR4J is an invitation to break free from confinement, obligation, shame, guilt, grief, pain, humiliation, rage, and bondage. It a revolutionary global call to survivors to release their stories through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, or testimonies.

The launch included dance performances by the group Shadhona. A flash mob was also performed by a group of women who work in the ready-made garments (RMG) industry. These women had also faced violence in the form of acid attacks, domestic violence and sexual assault. Their performance to OBR’s theme song “Break the chain” portrayed the strength and power of women to rise and move forward. 

It is within this context that OBR4J South Asia was launched on November 30, 2013. “Our work for this campaign begins now. From today we will rise for justice in every form,” said Kamla Bhasin. In the lead up to the landmark event set to take place on February 14, 2014, numerous events and actions will take place engaging a wide range of stakeholders. 


Chiraranjan Sarker 88 01730347963
Tanveer Ahmed Khan 88 01816361158
One Billion Rising Bangladesh, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


26 November 2013, Dhaka.  

- BRAC recognised for its comprehensive mother, infant and child health package

- The Award is the first initiative delivered as part of ambitious partnership between GSK and Save the Children that aims to save a million children’s lives

An innovative programme by development organisation BRAC transforming health for women and children in Dhaka’s slums has been awarded a prize in the first global GSK and Save the Children $1million Healthcare Innovation Award.

BRAC is one of five organisations, from a long list of nearly 100 applications from 29 countries from across the developing world, selected to share the award. It will receive $300,000 to pilot test its programme, called Manoshi, in the slums of Freetown, Sierra Leone, where under-five and maternal mortality rates are amongst the highest in the world.  

The Manoshi programme offers a comprehensive package of health services to mothers, infants and children. To meet their health needs and challenges, Manoshi has three key innovations that provide holistic solutions, including: 

  • Simple, clean delivery rooms for new mothers
  • Quick access to emergency health services for those who could not afford it
  • Digital data collection on patients for more efficient health service delivery

The Bangladesh-based NGO, founded in 1972, plays a significant part in the push to reduce Bangladesh’s own under-five and maternal mortality rates, the latter of which has seen a 40 per cent drop in a decade. 

A judging panel of experts from the fields of public health and development1, co-chaired by Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, and Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive of Save the Children, including Dr Abbas Bhuiya, Interim Executive Director of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, were impressed with the south-led innovation and the viability and impact of Manoshi and its potential to transform health for growing urban populations in Bangladesh and in Sierra Leone. 

Azizul Huq, Managing Director at GSK Bangladesh, said: “This remarkable project shows what can be achieved through innovation from within those closest to healthcare challenges faced by developing countries and we are delighted to be able to recognise the hard work of all involved. It has saved lives of mothers and children in Bangladesh and can make a difference for the people of Sierra Leone.”

Dr. Kaosar Afsana, Director of BRAC's Health, Nutrition and Population Programme said: “It is an honour to be recognised and awarded for the work we are doing in Bangladesh through our Manoshi programme. We thank GSK and Save the Children for the award money, which will be used to take the programme to Freetown, Sierra Leone, demonstrating excellent South-South collaboration.”

The partnership between GSK and Save the Children aims to deliver a new model for corporate-charity working to help save the lives of a million children.

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