Safety-nets, bed-nets fight malaria in Bangladesh
Joykumar Chakma, 28, has never been treated by a doctor.
“My father was the village mendicant. If we got seriously ill, the family sacrificed a pig or a hen and he believed the illness would pass. This was the custom in my community,” said Joykumar. “So many children used to die of malaria in those days.”
Squatting in the queue at a weekly UNDP-funded clinic in one of the remotest parts of Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts, Joykumar’s brow was etched with worry. He had walked four hours from his village, down ravines and across stream-beds, carrying his ailing three-year-old son Hridoy in his arms.
- Two-thirds of the CHT population have been served by the CHTDF via health, education, agriculture promotion, capacity development and income generation efforts.
- 1.2 million patients ensured access to health services through 80 satellite clinics and 1,000 mobile health workers, treating nearly 40% of all malaria cases in the CHT.
- 300 community-run schools built or renovated, hiring and training 700 teachers, and fostered local ownership of education with community-run School Management Committees.
- 625,000 people deciding and directly benefited by small-scale development projects worth $17 million.
“Hridoy has had a fever for a week now, and I am scared he has malaria,’ Joykumar confided to the nurse who was examining the sleeping child. Father and son were taken into the doctor’s chambers for a blood test.
Outside a bevy of patients waited in the midday sun. Most had simple complaints that a dose of antibiotics could cure. Some had a fluctuating fever, a possible sign of malaria, some had respiratory infections, and some had angry skin rashes and infected wounds. In these parts, thousands die every year because a simple dose of antibiotics is not easily accessible.
“If my patients miss this Monday clinic, the nearest hospital is eight hours by boat, and the journey costs US$30: more than the monthly income of most families in this area,’ said Dr Jyotirmoy Murong, inspecting Hridoy’s blood sample under his microscope.
While much of Bangladesh continues to perform remarkably on the Millennium Development Goals scorecard, the three south-eastern hill districts pose a stark contrast. Ravaged by nearly three decades of ethnic conflict that ended with a historic peace accord in 1997, the hill communities are lagging well behind the national average on almost all counts of development.
According to the World Health Organisation, 80 per cent of Bangladesh’s Malaria cases occur in the three hill districts. And yet roughly half of the medical positions at scanty government healthcare facilities in these districts remain vacant due to a lack of skilled personnel.
UNDP’s Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Facility (CHTDF) started its health interventions in 2006 as part of a peace-building initiative. It has since rolled out 80 weekly satellite clinics like the one Joykumar sought out, and trained more than a thousand community health workers in this remote region.
“Our vision with CHTDF has been to work with the government in providing basic services for underserved communities, while building local capacity who can take over the role in the long run,” says Robert Juhkam, Deputy Country Director, at UNDP in Bangladesh.
“More than a million people in these districts now have access to health services because of UNDP, and we are already seeing the results in the health indicators,” he adds.
Since 2006, UNDP’s mobile health clinics and community health workers have treated more than 700,000 cases of Malaria, causing the annual death toll to drop to a tenth of what it used to be six years ago.
“No one dies of malaria anymore, after we started using rapid detection field tests, advising everyone to use bed nets, and referring the serious cases to the hospitals,” says Kingsemme Rakhine, a community health service worker trained by UNDP.
For Joykumar it’s happy news. He emerged from the doctor’s chambers smiling, with Hridoy in his arms.
“He doesn’t have malaria. My father will be angry that I brought Hridoy to a doctor, but I just couldn’t take that risk with my child,” he said, as he started the trek back to his village.
“People cross ethnic lines to come to this clinic and receive treatment,” said Dr Jyotirmoy Murong. “With ethnic diversity among the medics and patients, we also go a long way in healing the unseen wounds of past conflicts.”
Latest ReportHuman Development Report 2013
When developed economies stopped growing during the 2008–2009 financial crisis but developing economies kept on growing, the world took notice. The rise of the South, seen within the developing world as an overdue global rebalancing, has been much commented on since.
- Art is life! We help support artisans build sustainable livelihoods. Check out these great photos from Le PNUD au Burundi 12 hours ago
- Malaysia’s islands are renowned for their beauty and outstanding biodiversity. Turtles, sharks, rays and reef fish swim in their azure waters, and their sea grass beds harbour the gentle Dugong. #GreenWednesday In 2007, the Malaysian government sought UNDP’s support to conserve marine parks against the threats of overfishing and destructive tourism. Learn more: http://on.undp.org/w4WvH 14 hours ago
- "See more posts on"Facebook
UNDP Bangladesh on Facebook
- UNDP promotes better Court services through ICT tools The incorporation of ICT in Court system has significantly improved the overall service delivery at the Court. Due to the intervention of JUST, about 86 per cent of judges in the Court premises are now using ICT tools to prepare verdicts and provide inputs into cause list compared to just 20 per cent in 2012. JUST has developed a soft ware on Cause-list which is also oriented to the judges and court staff. The cause list of the Supreme Court and three pilot District Courts of JUST is regularly updated now, helping litigants, lawyers and all concerned to know under which Court their case is and the dates. It also helps the judges monitor the performance of their fellow judges. Read More: http://www.bd.undp.org/content/bangladesh/en/home/presscenter/articles/2014/03/13/undp-promotes-better-court-services-through-ict-tools/ Tuesday AT 04:42 AM
- Digital Buses on Dhaka streets On April 10, 2014, the Communications Minister Obaidul Quader inaugurated 10 Digital Buses on BRTC’s Motijheel-Uttara route at the Farmgate Bus Stand. State Minister for Post, ICT and Telecommunications ministry, Junaid Ahmed Palak, was also present at the launching of the initiative that was implemented with the technical support of Access to Information (a2i) Programme of the Prime Minister’s Office, funded by UNDP and USAID. The buses, which would be running on a test basis initially, have integrated live tracking feature allowing commuters to easily track these vehicles, e.g. their routes, which way they are heading, and where it is, by going to urbanlaunchpad.org/brtc using their internet-enabled smart devices. The feature, at the same time, will allow the BRTC authorities to keep track of their buses on different routes and provide required directives. Read More: http://www.bd.undp.org/content/bangladesh/en/home/presscenter/articles/2014/04/10/digital-buses-on-dhaka-streets/ Tuesday AT 04:22 AM
- "See more posts on"UNDP Bangladesh on Facebook