Healthcare Support

Healthcare Support

Healthy People ensures a Healthy Nation

In Bangladesh, over the past decade there has been a significant decline in infant and child mortality. Control and prevention of diseases, such as measles, poliomyelitis, and diphtheria along with widespread use of ORS for diarrheal diseases have greatly reduced childhood mortality and morbidity. Bangladesh is on the verge of Polio eradication, and has already achieved the elimination goal for leprosy at the national level. People are living longer; the average life expectancy at birth in Bangladesh had increased to over 60 years in 2000. Population continues, however, to grow at about 1.4 percent and TFR has remained around 3.3 for the last several years. The maternal death ratio is still high at over 300 per 100,000 live births.

While there has been substantial progress in disease prevention and control and a decline in childhood communicable diseases, new and old infectious diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) are important threats to health for the years ahead. Projections are uncertain because of the potential of travel and trade, urbanisation, migration and microbial evolution to amplify these diseases. The emergence of drug resistant malaria and tuberculosis further increases the risk. Non-communicable diseases are a heterogeneous group that includes major causes of death, such as heart diseases, diabetes and cancer, and disability, such as mental disorders. These are also on the rise in Bangladesh.

Malnutrition is a major cause of death and debility in children in Bangladesh. Micro-nutrient deficiency is quite common; nearly 75 per cent of children's life is spent in illness mostly due to malnutrition related debility and infections. Poor nutrition deters physical, cognitive and mental development. Low birth weight and malnourished children are susceptible to infections; roughly two-thirds of under-five deaths are attributed to malnutrition, 75 per cent of it being associated with mild and moderate malnutrition. About 25 per cent of maternal deaths are associated with anemia and haemorrhage. Women and adolescent girls mostly suffer from Anemia owing to iron deficiency.

The Demographic and Health Survey 1999-2000 revealed that 45 per cent of children under 5 are stunt (short for age), 10 percent wasted (low: weight-for height) and 48 percent are under weight (below 2500 gm). Chronic energy deficiency, low-birth weight, micronutrient deficiency, protein-energy deficiency are rampant, posing serious problems in Bangladesh. Vit-A deficiency a leading cause of childhood blindness and night blindness among women is also very high at 2.2 percent, and among pregnant and breast-feeding women it is even higher at 2.7 percent and 2.4 percent respectively. A survey conducted by Hellen Keller International (HKI) and PHN in 1998 showed that 49 percent of women are suffering from anemia (Hb<11.0 gm/dl). Among children aged 6-11 months, this is alarmingly high at 78 percent. Among adolescent girls aged 11-16 years 43 percent were anemic (Hb<12.0 gm/dl), and 4.6 percent of them (adolescent girls) had only Hb.10.0 gm/dl. Notably, rural women and the poor were the worst sufferers.

The Government is the main provider of the health services in the country, with the private sector playing an increasingly larger role. NGOs are also involved in the provision of primary health care in both urban and rural areas .However, with less than 40% of the population receiving basic health care, availability and accessibility to health services continue to be a bottleneck in the country .Although morbidity rates improved in recent years, the disease pattern has unchanged, infectious and parasitic diseases arising from malnutrition, lack of hygiene and poor living conditions .Pregnancy and childbirth related illness continue to be major threats to women's health. The reason for high maternal mortality rate include the low nutritional status of pregnant women, the lack of access to or utilization of health care services and domestic violence.

Ensuring Healthcare to the Disadvantaged

Healthcare services are one of the highest priorities in Aparajeyo’s support to disadvantaged children and women. Giving girls and boys equally the best start in life means ensuring them good health care and proper nutrition. We act to make certain that children survive and thrive all the way to adulthood. We help children survive their earliest years through immunization. We ensure that important micronutrients like vitamin A and iodine are added to children’s diets. It means laying the foundation for learning and achieving in school. It means providing safe water and basic sanitation. It means providing quality health care and support for their mothers. We create a foundation of support for children, their caregivers and the community. We have been able to procure quality medicines at an average of 25% reduced costs.

We take action to ensure that preventive and curative health care, adequate nutrition, safe water and sanitation are made available to all children and those who care for them. We teach families about the importance of breastfeeding and monitoring their children’s growth and we strengthen their abilities to manage childhood illnesses at home. We act to ensure that pregnant women have access to proper nutrition, prenatal and delivery care, knowing that children’s well-being depends on their mother’s good health. We demonstrate the basics of good hygiene and proper sanitation. We advocate with communities to ensure that all children are registered at birth. We educate them on why their children need stimulation and opportunities to play and learn. We assist them to provide their youngest members with quality childhood care.