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16 July 2012, Dhaka. BRAC has organized a national conference on “Peri-natal Mental Health: Breaking the Vicious Cycle” at BRAC Centre Auditorium on Monday, July 16, 2012. Ms. Akhtari Mamtaz, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was present as a Special Guest.   The conference was based on a research that rendered first of its kind findings in Bangladesh on strong associations between peri-natal mental health and underweight babies, infant mortality and stunting – conditions that may lead to other major health problems even in adulthood.   Ms. Mamtaz said: “The Government of Bangladesh is working on improving maternal and child health in Bangladesh through the Director General of Health Services and Directorate of Family Planning. Unfortunately, we have not been able to address the peri-natal mental health issue specifically. With the help of NGOs, International organizations and various other stakeholders, we should be able to improve the maternal depression situation of Bangladesh for the interest of a better nation” . 

Dr. Hashima-E-Nasreen, BRAC, Dr. Maigun Edhborg, Senior Lecturer and Dr. Zarina Nahar Kabir, Associate Professor, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and Dr. Jena Hamadani, Scientist, ICDDR,B  presented papers on maternal depression and its relation to intimate partner violence  and its impact on mother-infant bonding and child development.  In the keynote paper, Dr. Neerja Chowdhury, Consultant Psychiatrist, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK and Sangath , India highlighted the public health importance of maternal depression. She mentioned in her presentation -“The high prevalence of peri-natal depression has consequences – it can increase mortality in women through suicide, it can have a negative impact on child growth, and it can have even other health implications. So, in fact, if we are treating maternal depression, we are not just improving maternal mental health, we are improving child growth with having these other benefits too”. 

Dr. Sadia Afroze Chowdhury, Public Health Specialist, the World Bank, Washington DC, USA has chaired the conference.  In her concluding remark, Ms. Chowdhury stated “we have learned the reasons and the long lasting impact of maternal depression throughout the presentations, and now it’s time to take policy initiatives to improve the overall situation”. This conference has provided a platform for researchers, practitioners and policy makers to share knowledge and ideas on improving and mainstreaming peri-natal mental health in public health. 


12 July 2012, London. Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director of BRAC, has attended a number of high profile events in London this week to highlight the success of Vision Bangladesh and launch a Ramadan advertising campaign with four Bangla TV stations to help raise donations. Vision Bangladesh is an innovative large-scale partnership programme between BRAC and Sightsavers, with the target of eliminating cataract blindness in Sylhet Division by December 2013 and across the whole of Bangladesh by 2020. By the end of June 2012, the programme was well ahead of schedule with 526,000 people screened and 61,000 sight restoring operations performed in Sylhet. During Ramadan alone, Vision Bangladesh will be identifying and treating 2,500 cataract cases.

Dr. Mahabub Hossain stresses on how public support continues to be critical:
“We know the British Bangladesh communities have been very generous in the past to Vision Bangladesh and donated through public appeals and online. We would like to thank those people and also encourage more people to donate – we still need to raise funds to complete 39,000 operations. Help us help those who are blind – just £20 can give the gift of sight and change a person’s life forever.”

Dr. Hossain was also the guest of honour at a VIP event for Vision Bangladesh, held at the Churchill Room at the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday 11 July 2012, hosted by Nicky Morgan, MP - a staunch supporter of Vision Bangladesh who visited the programme through the Conservative Party’s Social Action Project in 2011. There was a large turnout from leaders of the British Bangladesh business community; many of whom made pledges to support the programme.

10 July 2012, Dhaka. On 7th July, 2012, at 11:00 am, Boragari Union Parishad, BRAC Community Empowerment Programme and community organisation – Polli Shomaj, jointly inaugurated the 6 no ward of Boragari Union, Domar, Niphamari, as Ideal Ward. The inauguration ceremony was held at the field of Dolapara government Primary School, Boragari.

Advocate Momtazul Haq, Administrator, District Parishad, Nilphamari was present as the Chief Guest with special guests Anna Minj, Director, Community Empowerment Programme and Integrated Development Programme, BRAC; Mr. Abdur Razzak Boshuani, Upazila Chairman, Domar; and Mr. Md. Nazmul Huda, Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Domar. The ceremony was chaired by Mr. Isahaq Ali, Chairman, Boragari Union Parishad. Participants from various government and non-government organisations, members of the civil society, representatives from the Polli Shomaj and around 4,000 participants from the wider community were also present at the occasion.

Polli Shomaj is a ward level community organisation of the poor and marginalised, especially women, facilitated by BRAC Community Empowerment Programme. With focus on women’s empowerment, Polli Shomaj has been engaged in various social development activities for a long time. During its course of action over a period of time, experience of Polli Shomaj indicated that it is essential to work with all spheres of the society to achieve community development in light of the Millennium Development Goals. In this regard, in 2011, Polli Shomaj, local Union Parishad, and BRAC Community Empowerment Programme jointly started mobilising the community towards social development for transforming the 6 no ward of Boragari Union, Domar, Niphamari, as an Ideal Ward. Through collaboration with people at the grassroots level, the community worked towards creating an Ideal Ward with development in education, health, environment, water, sanitation, and to combat human rights violations, especially violence against women. Working in unity, the community and local government has made this Ideal Ward a place where school enrollment of children is 100%, while 100% people have access to sanitary latrines and tubewells. Also, illegal activities - such as child marriage, teasing (sexual harassment), violence against women, and gambling have stopped in the ward. The community members are now easily accessing resources and services from the local government, while 100% people have completed birth and death registration. Infrastructure and environment development are also reflected through 7 km of road improvements and 8 km of social forestry. Currently, there is also a MBBS doctor available for providing health care at the ward. With focus on the Millennium Development Goals, this 6 no ward of Boragari Union was transformed into an Ideal Ward through the active participation of the community people.


The BRAC University James P. Grant School of Public Health is accepting applications from international students for its Master of Public Health (MPH) Program.

Designed to be innovative, embracing international standards, utilizing state-of-the-art methods and techniques of teaching, learning, and providing opportunities for hands-on field experience, the School offers a unique Master of Public Health (MPH) programme with students and faculty recruited from Bangladesh and abroad. Previous and current students are from 19 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and the Americas.

The MPH has gained global recognition for its innovative approach, and was featured by the World Health Organization Bulletin in 2007 as one of the six top leading Schools of Public Health in the region. Graduates of the MPH program have moved on to work for their respective governments, national and/or international NGOs, universities, research organizations and donor and UN agencies in Bangladesh and globally.

Application deadline for international students is September 30, 2012.

After primary scrutiny of the applicants, admission test schedule will be provided. The Admission Test will be held in the fall of 2012 (tentatively in October).

The next MPH program will start in the last week of January 2013.

Click here for more information about the BRAC University MPH program and to apply.

03 July 2012, Dhaka. On June 23 2012, BRAC held an informal round table discussion with various journalists from Dhaka’s most widely distributed newspapers concerning the relationship between NGOs and reporters. Notable attendees included Sanaullah, chief executive officer of ABC Radio, Riaz Ahmed, news editor of Daily Star, Nazrul Islam, special correspondent for The Independent, Munima Sultana, senior correspondent The Financial Express,and Shupriti Dhar, CEO of Just News.

The discussion was held to create clearer understanding and better modes of communication between BRAC and the news world, and also with the goal of setting the foundation for BRAC’s future media policy.

The dialogue surrounded various media issues of contemporary Dhaka, including the public perception of Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in Bangladesh, the sudden rise in media proliferation with reference to new TV news channels and online newspapers, their impact on quality and reliability, the bilingual conflict between English and Bangla, and how political instability affects journalism and communications.

While journalists find BRAC active in issuing press releases, one concern was that BRAC is often too confined to bureaucratic sources of information. For this reason, it has been perceived by the media that BRAC is selective about responding to questions, especially to controversial questions, often risking the possibility of raising suspicion.

All the BRAC representatives and journalists present at the discussion were unanimous in deciding that communication between the two should be more accountable, punctual, transparent, and easily accessible. BRAC Communications needs to better communicate its effectiveness as an NGO by raising awareness through creative promotions, and a greater willingness to speak freely and frequently to various media.

A Message from the Friends of Rio 20

On the occasion of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we, the undersigned, come together as a coalition of business, science and civil society to call for greatly expanded action and cooperation by all stakeholders to meet urgent sustainable development challenges.

We live in a world where 1 billion people are hungry, 1.5 billion people lack access to clean water and electricity and half a billion new jobs will need to be found in the next decade. Climate research indicates that pressure on our environmental systems is increasing to the point where we may soon move beyond safe natural boundaries. 
The magnitude and time-sensitivity of these challenges require the international community to adopt a more practical and results-oriented approach to organizing progress. Only if we take advantage of all the potential dimensions of international cooperation will we be likely to realize the vision of the original Rio Conference within the next 20 years.

There is now substantial evidence that clearly defined coalitions of government, business, science and civil society can mobilize their combined skills, creativity and resources to make progress at scale against specific sustainable development goals.

Therefore, we urge government leaders gathered at Rio 20 to take two initiatives:

  • Commit to designing economies which put us on the path to sustainable development and to developing a clear set of ambitious, universal and equitable global goals.
  • Invite multistakeholder, multi-country coalitions to undertake specific sets of actions to help achieve these goals.

We encourage governments explicitly to enlist the support of a wider range of partners, not as a substitute for multilateral agreements or national plans, but as a way of translating their aspirations into additional action.

By embracing the widest spectrum of cooperation capable of drawing more fully on the resources and expertise of business, science and civil society, the Rio 20 conference could leave a lasting legacy of accelerated progress on sustainable development.

Working together, we can get things done. To seize this opportunity, we invite government leaders gathered in Rio to engage us and others of like mind. There is no time for waiting.

The Friends of Rio 20

Fazle H. Abed, Founder and Chair, BRAC, Bangladesh
James Bacchus, Chair, World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council Governance for Sustainability, Greenberg Traurig LLP, USA
Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Switzerland
Marcos Bicudo, CEO; President CBDES (Brazil Business Council for Sustainable Development), Philips Latin America, Brazil
Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of the Board, Nestlé, Switzerland
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Belgium
Cynthia Carroll, CEO, Anglo American Plc, UK
Frederico Curado, CEO, Embraer, Brazil
Carlos Fadigas, CEO, Braskem , Brazil
Gao Jifan, Chairman and CEO, Trina Solar Ltd, People's Republic of China
Bekele Geleta, Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Switzerland
Vitor Hallack, Chairman of the Board, Camargo Corrêa, Brazil
Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company, USA
Caio Koch-Weser, Vice Chairman, Deutsche Bank Group, Germany
Barbara Kux, Chief Sustainability Officer and Member of the Managing Board, Siemens AG, Germany
Jim Leape, Director General, WWF International, Switzerland
Lee Yuan Tseh, President, Nobel Laureate, International Council of Science, France
Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever, Netherlands/United Kingdom
Maria Ramos, CEO, Absa Group and CEO, Barclays Africa, South Africa
Johan Rockström, Executive Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden
Richard Samans, Executive Director, Global Green Growth Institute, Korea
Josette Sheeran, Vice-Chairman, World Economic Forum, Switzerland
Wang Shi, Chairman, China Vanke Co. Ltd, People's Republic of China
B. G. Srinivas, Member of the Board, Infosys, India
Maurice Strong, Chairman of the Advisory Board, Institute for Research on Security and Sustainability for Northeast Asia, China
Ben J. Verwaayen, CEO, Alcatel Lucent, France

To read the full message that the Friends of Rio 20 are presenting to leaders in Rio de Janeiro, and learn more about how collaborations can help to deliver sustainable development outcomes at scale, visit:

Join our group: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow the conversation:

 “Friends of Rio 20” is a group of business, scientific and civil society leaders convened by the World Economic Forum.

18 June 2012, Dhaka. On 12th June 2012, the World Bank (WB) appointed BRAC's Executive Director Dr. Mahabub Hossain, to its ‘Knowledge Advisory Commission’. Established by WB's president Robert Zoellick, the new commission will help WB to not only be the most important international institution for development financing, but to become the leading 'knowledge bank'. Investing in the creation of problem solving knowledge, bringing together the best knowledge available on a global scale, and engaging in knowledge transfer to partner countries are some of WB’s strategic instruments for its international cooperation efforts.

Dr. Hossain said, “I feel honoured to be included in this high level commission that consists of eminent professionals”.

In 2011, WB invested USD 600 million in knowledge products and services to solve global development problems; from now on these efforts will be supported by the knowledge advisory commission. The commission will help WB to undertake innovative efforts to improve WB's methods for measuring impact of knowledge services, effectiveness of new and collaborative efforts with partners and ways to best play a knowledge connector's role.

The commission consists of 21 members from all over the globe with five members from Asia, including Dr. Mahabub Hossain. Other members include:

  • Masahiro Kawai, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Institute
  • Professor Ann Harrison, University of Pennsylvania
  • Isher Judge Ahluwalia, from Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER)
  • Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School
  • Simeon Djankov, Ministry of Finance Bulgaria
  • Oh-Seok Hyun, Korea Development Institute
  • Sherif H Kamel, American University in Cairo
  • Louis Kasekende, Central Bank of Uganda
  • Santiago Levy, Inter-American Development Bank
  • Trevor Manuel, National Planning Commission of South Africa
  • Dirk Messner, German Development Institute
  • Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita, ArcelorMittal South Africa
  • Euan Semple, social media speaker, consultant and writer (ex-BBC)
  • Ümit Boyner, Turkish Industry and Business Association(TUSIAD)
  • Tsun-Yan Hsieh, LinHeart Group (ex-McKinsey)
  • Frannie Leautier, African Capacity Building Foundation
  • Yifu Justin Lin, China Centre for Economic Research
  • Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Centre for Policy Research-India
  • Frances Seymour, Centre for International Forestry Research, and
  • Michael Spence, New York University. 

This year's forum will focus on 'Culture. Education. Media: Shaping a sustainable world' and is scheduled to be held from 25-27 June at the World Conference Centre in Bonn, Germany.


14 June 2012, London. On 13th June Andrew Mitchell, UK Secretary of State for International Development, Australian High Commissioner, Mr John Dauth and Sir Fazle Abed, Founder and Chairman of BRAC, strengthened their joint commitment to supporting the livelihoods of some of the poorest and most marginalised people in Bangladesh through a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between DFID, AusAID and BRAC, one of the world’s largest NGOs.

The partnership will maximise opportunities for learning across BRAC programmes, and between BRAC, AusAID and other DFID programmes in Bangladesh, and is based on shared goals, clear results and mutual accountability.  It will support continued innovation and best practice by BRAC, and will provide opportunities for DFID, AusAID and BRAC to collaborate on new areas of strategic focus such as climate change. In addition, the partnership will strengthen BRAC’s institutional capacity and long term sustainability.

Over 5 years, the partnership will deliver results that include:

  • Lifting 340,000 women and their families (over 1.3 million people) out of extreme poverty;
  • Supporting 680,000 children (60% girls) to receive a high standard of primary education;
  • Providing contraceptive services to over 15 million couples;
  • Ensuring that 2.9 million women are seen by skilled attendants during childbirth.

Speaking during the launch event, Mr Mitchell said:
"The British Government and BRAC have worked together for many years to lift some of the very poorest people in Bangladesh out of extreme poverty. BRAC has a proven track record of delivering results and value for money, and has robust financial management systems which enable it to account effectively for donor funds.

"Through this agreement, we are re-affirming our commitment to work together to tackle the causes of poverty - focus our effort where the need is greatest, not only saving but transforming millions of lives by providing access to food, clean drinking water, basic healthcare and education”

Bob Carr said:
“The work of the last 40 years by BRAC – fighting poverty in Bangladesh and beyond – is quite literally changing lives and providing opportunities for an estimated 110 million people.

“And Bangladesh is seeing the results. The under-five mortality rate has declined by more than half since 1990, literacy rates have risen steadily in the same period and equal numbers of girls and boys are now enrolled in school.

“This partnership will enable BRAC to help many more of the poorest and most disadvantaged in Bangladesh – including giving more children a primary education and ensuring millions of pregnant mothers give birth with the support of skilled attendants.”

Sir Fazle Abed said:

 "This partnership is a strengthening of the deep bonds and commitment that exists between Bangladesh, the UK and Australia. At BRAC, we feel this partnership is a reflection of the confidence that development partners have in our ability to deliver sustainable results and achieve ambitious targets."

BRAC, established in 1972 in the aftermath of Bangladesh’s war of independence, has been widely credited as making a significant contribution to the country’s progress to date and has built up an impressive track record of highly effective development activities working with a DFID and AusAID since the 1980s. This new partnership arrangement is a maturing of those long-standing relationships away from a funder-implementer relationship to one of equal partnership based on mutual trust, shared commitment to results, and common objectives. BRAC has a clear focus on the poor, and its key strengths include its emphasis on support for women and girls allied with its scale, coverage and cost effectiveness.

London, 12 June 2012. Peace One Day, Jeremy Gilley’s not-for-profit organisation, has teamed up with Interpeace to establish the NGO coalition for Global Truce 2012. Martin Bell, former BBC war correspondent and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and Emmanuel Jal, former child soldier and South Sudanese musician, launched the Global Truce 2012 NGO Coalition this morning in Central London.

Martin and Emmanuel were joined by representatives from leading NGOs across the world. BRAC, MAG (Mines Advisory Group), Mercy Corps and War Child, came together to confirm their commitment to Peace Day 21 September 2012 and to the Global Truce 2012 campaign. Video statements from ACCORD and Viva Rio completed the line up of founding NGOs.

Jeremy Gilley, Founder of Peace One Day said: “To see such a strong show of support from the NGO community is inspiring. I’m grateful to Interpeace and all the participating organisations here today, and we invite others around the world to join us. Having established 21 September as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, unanimously adopted by United Nations member states, we now hope to see the largest ever reduction of violence on one day – Peace Day 21 September 2012. What a powerful message of hope that would send to the global community, particularly young people. With support such as we are seeing here today I’m very hopeful that we can achieve it and make history.”

Scott M. Weber, Director-General of Interpeace, said: “This is an exciting line up of leading international organisations. It is a clear demonstration of just how important peace is for all of us to do our work and achieve our goals, no matter if we’re in conflict prevention, humanitarian work, peacebuilding or development.” He added: “We will be taking this coalition to the next stage and welcoming other NGOs to join as our peacebuilders in Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe and the Middle East plan how they will be marking Peace Day and Global Truce 2012 this September in their countries."

Nick Roseveare, Chief Executive of MAG (Mines Advisory Group) said: “After 23 years of working in over 40 conflict-affected countries, it is sometimes hard to see a day when the world will be completely free from war and armed violence. Until then, we have a responsibility to work towards securing some form of peace for the global communities we serve. Initiatives such as the UN Peace Day are crucial in raising awareness of the barriers to peace and inspire us to look towards the solutions, of which we can all be part.”

Valerie Ceccherini, Mercy Corps Senior Policy and Advocacy Advisor, said: “Violent conflict takes a terrible toll. Generations of children around the world suffer its effects every day, and have grown up believing that violence is the only way to find a job, to find meaning or to simply stay alive. We are committed to changing this reality and are very proud to be here today at the launch of the Global Peace 2012 campaign. By working together we can bring the issue of peace to the fore and really draw attention to conflict issues and peacebuilding worldwide.”

Vasu Gouden, Founder and Executive Director of Accord, stated: “There are many conflicts in Africa today and we have made huge progress but are still plagued in other parts. Significantly I am currently in Ghana to announce ACCORD’s 2012 African Peace Award in recognition of stability and hope. One day we will get rebel groups and insurgent groups to lay down their arms and call a truce – so we can show as humanity that we can make peace happen.”

Robert Evans, a Trustee of BRAC UK, stated: “As an organisation that works in some of the countries heavily hit by war, for example South Sudan and Afghanistan, we are pleased to provide some of the building blocks that are empowering a new generation of believers in peace, especially women and children. A war-torn region in one generation can be a holiday destination in another – it clearly demonstrates peace is possible.”

Helen Ord, War Child Finance Director, stated: “Nothing worth doing is ever easy. But if children and young people are the catalyst, Peace One Day could just be the vehicle for change.”

Martin Bell, former BBC war correspondent commented: “Peace One Day is one of the life-saving peace initiatives of our time and I do all I can to support it. I have deep personal experience of both war and peace. In 1972 I was in Vietnam where I thought peace was unimaginable. At the time, I wrote that peace was like snow, something only ever heard of there, but never actually experienced."

Emmanuel Jal, former child soldier and South Sudanese musician, said: “Peace is justice, equality and freedom for all. Peace is when my belly is full. Peace is when conflicts are managed in a mature manner and violence is reduced. I’m passionate about peace because I’ve experienced life both with and without it - I can sleep in a peaceful place now and I want children to enjoy the same.”

The event was held at London’s unique and historic Central Hall Westminster, which was the chosen venue for the very first meeting of the United Nations in 1946.

The NGO Coalition is the third Global Truce 2012 coalition to be launched by Peace One Day. Baroness Scotland (EDV Global Foundation) leads the Coalition on ‘Reducing Domestic Violence’ and the National Union of Students in the UK, along with student leaders from around the world, are championing the Student Coalition. A Peace One Day concert opening the London 2012 Festival on 21 June 2012 in Derry-Londonderry will mark the three-month countdown to Peace Day 2012. A second concert, effectively the final show of the Festival, will take place at Wembley Arena on Peace Day, 21 September 2012.

The Learning and Organisation Development (L & OD) Roundtable organised a Seminar and Awards Ceremony on 7th June 2012 in Mumbai, India, and invited BRAC to participate in the competition, “The Best Learning Organisations of Asia Study, 2011”. In response, BRAC Learning Division (BLD) submitted a write-up in early August 2011 following L & OD’s prescribed format and joined as one the finalist organisations. The Award was given in two categories: Large and Medium/Small Businesses/Enterprises.

BRAC won the Winner Trophy in Medium/Small category; while Tata Motors Ltd. received the Winner Trophy in Large category. Interestingly, apart from BRAC, the other 8 finalist organisations were mainly business organisations and they were all from India. Bangladesh was the only other country, beside India, selected amongst the Asian countries; and BRAC was the only development organisation who received the award. Mohammad Abdur Rahman, Program Coordinator of BRAC Learning Division, spoke in the magnificent event as one of the panellists amongst the presence of 300 delegates.

The selection of the participating organisations followed a rigorous scrutiny process by a distinguished Jury, Chaired by Dr. T V Rao, commonly referred as “the Father of Indian HRD”. A list of 9 finalist organisations out of 28 submissions, from different Asian countries, was presented. The Jury included luminaries such as Robert Whitman, Global Chairman of the Board and CEO, Franklin Covey, US, Sarah Cook, author of the Essential Guide to Employee Engagement, and other books, UK, Kishore Dash, Associate Professor of Global Studies, Thundered School of Global Management, US, Ganesh Natarajan, CEO, Zensar, and Adil Malia, Group President – HR, Essar Group, India.

Founded in the year 2009, the Learning and Organisation Development Roundtable is a not-for-profit society driving the cause of Learning & Organisational Development (L & OD) across India and Asia. Based in Mumbai, L & OD Roundtable serves as a knowledge-sharing and networking platform for practicing L & OD professionals in Asia. A pioneering initiative in its own right, the Roundtable is committed to help L & OD practitioners build scalable and sustainable Learning Teams and Organisations. (

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