In 2010, Bangladesh achieved something remarkable; much to the confusion of many, the number of women dying during labor dropped dramatically from 650 in 100,000 live births in the 70s to only 194 — a 70% reduction. This is a dramatic decline that was termed by observers as “one of the great mysteries of global health.”
Diarrhea caused by contaminated water is the single greatest killer of children in much of the world. In the 1980s, the Bangladesh-based organization to which I belong, BRAC, ran a program that helped reduce children's deaths from diarrhea by 80 percent nationwide. The project was fraught with difficulties and challenges, taking a decade to complete. Looking back years later, I think the experience holds important lessons that apply far beyond public health.
This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post on 26 January 2013.The world has made impressive progress in health over the past few decades, leading to untold lives being saved. This has been possible due to deliberate efforts in providing prevention and healthcare, and improving the various social determinants of health. Yet, nearly ten million children die before reaching their ﬁfth birthday and half a million women die each year in child birth.