Building an Understanding of Universal Health Coverage in Bangladesh

Going into its sixth year in Bangladesh, HFG has successfully supported various activities focused on raising awareness of universal health coverage (UHC) and driving momentum for achieving UHC in Bangladesh. These activities focus on investing in health systems that put people at the center, increasing political will and citizen demand, and drawing learnings from diverse issues, sectors, geographies and organizations.
HFG led several initiatives in observance of UHC Day on December 12, 2017, including a working session on UHC with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), a technical discussion session with journalists on health financing and financial protection, a civic walk, a multi-stakeholder regional dialogue and two TV talk shows.

A snapshot of the technical discussion session with journalists on UHC at the Institute of Health Economics, University of Dhaka on 11 December 2017; from right: Dr. S.A. Hamid, Director, IHE, Mr. Nuruzzaman, Director General (in charge), Health Economics Unit, MOHFW, Dr. Mursaleena Islam, Country Manager, HFG Bangladesh, and journalist participants

Raising Awareness

A student from the nursing institute sharing her thoughts in the UHC multi-stakeholder dialogue in Sylhet on December 9, 2017.

The HFG project has been working with the Health Economics Unit (HEU) of the MOHFW on raising awareness and building capacity to develop a ”critical mass” of professionals who can carry forward the UHC agenda in Bangladesh. HFG launched a series of six UHC working sessions, starting with the Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health (MNC&AH) Operational Plan (OP), MOHFW, in Dhaka on December 5, 2017. Through active discussion, participants generated practical ideas and provided input on how the planned activities of the MNC&AH OP will be implemented with additional focus on UHC.

Reaching out to Journalists

HFG is partnering with Dr. Syed Abdul Hamid, Director of the Institute of Health Economics, University of Dhaka and the Bangladesh Health Reporters’ Forum, to organize five technical discussion sessions with journalists on UHC, from December 2017 to April 2018. The sessions will focus more in-depth on health financing and financial protection aspects related to UHC and will include members of the Bangladesh Health Reporters’ Forum.
The first session took place on December 11, 2017 at the Institute of Health Economics, University of Dhaka with 21 journalists from leading news agencies in attendance. As a result, more than 10 articles were published in both English and Bangla to recognize UHC Day on December 12, 2017.

Participants, including USAID/Bangladesh’s Dr. Sukumar Sarker, at the Healthy Bangladesh civic walk to raise awareness about universal health coverage; in Manikganj, Bangladesh on December 30, 2017.

UHC Dialogue and Civic walk in Sylhet and Manikganj

HFG is leveraging the Healthy Bangladesh civic platform supported by HFG’s partner, the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) with the Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB), to organize a series of regional dialogues for raising awareness of UHC with an aim to leaving no one behind to achieve the UHC target.

In order to elevate regional awareness and support, HFG supported a multi-stakeholder dialogue and a colorful civic-walk in Sylhet city on December 9, 2017 in partnership with PPRC, the National Heart Foundation (NHF), Sylhet, and the Federation of Association of Pediatric Surgeons of SAARC (FAPSS). The dialogue and civic walk were led by Ariful Islam Chowdhury, mayor of Sylhet City Corporation, Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Executive Chairman, PPRC, Dr. Abdul Malik, National Professor and founder of NHF, along with and other local and national stakeholders. The dialogue reached community representatives, health service providers, teachers, students, and members of the local government, with active discussion on how to move forward for a “Healthy Bangladesh” with UHC.

On December 30, 2017 HFG supported a multi-stakeholder dialogue and a colorful civic-walk held in Manikganj, a city near the capital Dhaka. The panelists of the multi-stakeholder dialogue highlighted that health has multiple dimensions with different challenges, and UHC, along with health awareness, can help address these challenges.

UHC TV talk shows

As part of its UHC day celebrations, HFG partnered with the Participation Research Centre (PPRC) to organize two interactive TV talk shows with Channel i‘s Tritiyo Matra, a popular show on contemporary issues; the shows aired on December 18 and December 30, 2017. USAID Bangladesh’s Dr. Sukumar Sarker, Senior Technical and Policy Advisor Office of Population, Health, Nutrition and Education, joined the TV talk show on December 30. The talk show highlighted the progress in Bangladesh in reaching middle-income country status, reaching target SDGs, and why the health sector is important for achieving the SDGs. The talk show panel showcased the enormous economic development in Bangladesh, while also indicating the importance of considering the health of its citizens as a powerful development indicator. Quality healthcare services have become an important issue in the country and many Bangladeshis are at risk of being overburdened by healthcare costs.

The panelists also emphasized the economic importance of UHC in addressing the high out-of-pocket costs in Bangladesh, while also touching on the need to increase technical capacity and coordination to support the health sectortv, including better budget allocation towards health.

Dr. Sukumar Sarker, Senior Technical and Policy Advisor Office of Population, Health, Nutrition and Education, USAID Bangladesh attended as a panelist of the TV talk show on UHC at Channel i‘s Tritiyo Matra, aired on December 30, 2017.

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