DHAKA, Feb 18, 2020 (BSS) – Mothers’ and children from ultra-poor cluster
of the country’s population have started seeing the light of hope for a
better livelihood as various government and non-government safety net
programmes are offering wide range of supports especially in nutrition and
primary health care sector.
Though Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty over
the past two decades, the country is among the ten countries with the highest
prevalence of malnutrition, as about 31 percent of children under five are
Children from poor households bear a disproportionate burden of stunted
growth. Ensuring nutrition prenatally and in the early years can help
maximize a child’s brain development and growth.
Keeping this factor in mind, the present government has taken various
safety net programmes targeting the ultra-poor faction of the population to
upgrade their nutritional status.
The community clinics, a flagship programme of the Awami League
government, an innovation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, aim to extend
primary health care to the doorsteps of rural people especially the ultra-
poor people all over Bangladesh.
There are nearly 18,000 community clinics across the country offering
affordable healthcare, particularly for people of low income group.
Community health clinics are providing a broad range of services and
health promotion activities to local population, particularly those who have
or are at risk of poor health.
Faizul Islam, a 56-year old man who still works as a day labourer and
resides in one of the houses at Dharmapur shelter project in Feni district
said, “We are too poor to see private physicians. We don’t have enough money
to go to Sadar upazila to see a doctor even at the public hospital there.
Thanks to the government for setting up community clinics as it has come to
us as savior.”
Due to lack of medication for long, Halima, a 70-year old lady, from the
same area has been suffering from severe physical impairment. She used to
think that she has less chance to survive.
However, the scenario has changed. She now seems enthusiastic and plans to
cuddle her great grandchild as she is confident to live longer now.
“I didn’t have any money to buy medicine for me. I lost hope for my
survival. But suddenly the community clinics changed my fate. Now I can visit
doctors at the clinics anytime and at the top of that I get medicine free of
cost,” she said with joy.
Recently, the government has taken another programme named Income Support
Program for the Poorest (ISPP) project also known as the ‘Jawtno’ to benefit
ten percent of the poorest households across 43 poor upazilas with high child
malnutrition rates in seven northwestern districts.
Jawtno initiated a cash benefit scheme for the poorest mothers and
pregnant women in exchange for their participation in activities to improve
their children’s nutrition and cognitive development.
Local government cooperative and rural development division is
implementing the project with the financial assistance of the World Bank at a
cost of Taka 377.80 crore to benefit 600,000 poor rural people.
Of the total amount, the project received Taka 340 crore from the World
Bank and rest 37.80 crore from the government fund. Meanwhile, Women and
Children ministry is implementing a project in 21 districts to improve
nutritional status of 50 lakh poor.
Project director Dr Anbul Hossain said the objective of the project is to
provide integrated primary healthcare with nutrition supplements to the ultra
Side by side the government initiatives, a number of non-government and
welfare organizations are also working for improving the primary healthcare
services for the poor people across the country.
Haridashi Woman and Child Care and Nutrition Centre of Brahmanbaria
district is one such initiative, which provides health care and nutrition
support to poor women and children.
Bangladesh Mohila Samity set up the centre at a remote area named Gokorno
under Nasir Nagar upazila of the district in 2011 to provide health care and
nutrition support to the poor women and children.
Dr Marufi Khan, the coordinator of the programme said they also provide
treatment to patients for various diseases like breast and ovarian cancer
along with providing nutrition support.