Engaging in sports intrinsically makes you more mindful about your body. You may start speculating how to be healthier – a good entry point for inquiring about your general well-being. For adolescent girls in marginalised communities, these questions can lead to discussions about more sensitive topics, particularly sexual and reproductive health.
Traditional hospital-based services are not able to reach some of the world’s poorest and most remote villages. Over one billion people globally, including 400 million Africans, lack access to health services because they live too far from a health facility. Rural communities know that if a child becomes ill, the long walk for treatment could potentially turn a minor ailment into a serious health problem.
There is a lot of room for innovation when it comes to health. In a resource-poor country like Bangladesh, effective and low-cost preventive and basic curative interventions can save millions of lives. If they are rooted in community demand and context, they can be implemented at a great scale.
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.
Heart disease is often regarded as a problem that a person is born with, or something that eventually happens in older adults. Non-modifiable risk factors like advancing age and family history are not the only reasons for heart disease. In fact, 80 per cent of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease could be avoided if modifiable risk factors like tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes and raised lipids are addressed.
As we read this, there are millions of people in different corners of the world who are unsure if they will wake up alive in the morning due to their inhabitancy in conflict-ridden regions. There are people who brace themselves every morning to face another day of poverty or wonder if they will be able to afford medicine for their children.
Friends and supporters have reached out to BRAC with concern and support. In Sierra Leone and Liberia, we have 907 full-time staff, and about as many self-employed community health promoters. Our staff is safe, though sadly, some of our microfinance clients are among the more than 1,000 who have died.
It was Monday, a bazaar day at Qarabag. Hundreds of people were milling about the market, which stretches along one of the roads of the junction. They were buying clothes, daily essentials and food. On these days, the number of visitors at the BRAC-managed district hospital also doubles.
Bangladesh is rated as one of the 36 high malnutrition burdened countries in the world. Although it was widely perceived that malnutrition could be curbed down by increasing peoples’ income, recent studies have shown that it is not always the case. Malnutrition is not only under-nutrition but also over-nutrition, which leads to obesity leading to further health complications such as non-communicable diseases. Moreover, exposure to junk food coupled with a lack of knowledge on nutrition increases the prevalence of malnutrition across the mid and higher quintile of the population.
Asma Akhter had her first child at the age of 15. She had little knowledge on infant, young and child feeding (IYCF) practices and used to believe in superstitions and social taboos regarding child care. She had avoided breastfeeding her daughter within one hour of birth and had wrongly fed other lacteals during her child’s first six months.
BRAC has been recruiting and training shasthya shebikas, frontline community health promoters, in Bangladesh since 1972. Currently 97,000 shasthya shebikas and an additional 10,000 shasthya kormis, frontline community health workers, are providing a multitude of health services to Bangladesh’s communities. For tuberculosis (TB), they provide TB information, identify TB cases and administer directly observed treatment short- course (DOTS).