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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Strengthening Ward Health Committees in Urban Bangladesh

Shamim Jahan, MBBS1, Michelle Kouletio2, Syed Izaz Rasul, MD, MPH1, and Subir Saha, PhD Candidate1. (1) Health and Nutrition Department, Concern Worldwide Bangladesh, Dhanmondi, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 88028115972, shamimjah@yahoo.com, (2) Concern Worldwide US, Inc., 104 East 40th Street, Suite 903, New York, NY 10016

Urban population in Bangladesh represents 26% of the total population, or 35 million people, with an annual growth rate of 4.6%. Nearly 20 million of them live in the secondary cities and towns, with over 40% living in extreme poverty. Urban health services are the responsibility of the Ministry of Local Government. Urban areas are supposed to provide preventive health and limited curative care to their residents. However, lack of technical capacity from the Ministry and broken political and administrative lines with the Ministry of Health have prevented community health services from meeting the real needs of poor urban residents.

Concern Worldwide, with a view to improve and sustain quality maternal and child health services, implemented a Child Survival Project (CSP) from 2000-2004 in two secondary towns of Saidpur and Parbatipur, in the northern part of Bangladesh in partnership with the local government. On the basis of a circular on paper from 1995 provided by MOLGRD and using the growing interest about the program of locally elected leaders, CSP initiated to set up Ward Health Committees (WHC) through participatory way with active participation from the different segment of the local urban communities and the elected representatives. Further CSP established a coordination body to bring together private and public health service providers who normally did not consider the town as a “working area”.

Results achieved by this program were impressive, in terms of capacities of local groups as well as in coverage and practice levels. For example, immunization coverage increased from 45% in Saidpur and 49% in Parbatipur to 71% and 83% respectively), antenatal care increased from 58% in Saidpur and 61% in Parbatipur to 89% and 87% respectively, health facility deliveries increased from 25% in Saidpur and 24% in Parbatipur to 48% and 39% respectively, and utilization of modern contraceptive methods increased from 38% in Saidpur and 42% in Parbatipur to 55% and 65% respectively.

Urban community mobilization for health promotion can be achieved. Policy research has been fruitful in Bangladesh to put from “paper into action”. Building on government mandated structures as the core of the success of the program, enabling current replication to seven additional cities.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Community-Based Partnership, Child Health

Related Web page: www.concernusa.org/ourwork/programTypes.asp?ptid=11

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

NGO Community Empowerment Approaches to Improve Child Health: Overview and Three Case Studies

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA