Bangladesh Government Activities Jannuary 2013

Ministry of Health & Family Welfare

 Vitamin A capsule distribution has stopped

The program of feeding Vitamin A capsule to the children has been stopped by Health and Family Welfare Ministry.  5th January 2013 was the scheduled date of 2 crore 50 lakh children’s Vitamin A capsule feeding. Director of IPHN EkhlasurRahman said to The Daily ProthomAlo that capsule feeding has stopped and it will start when capsule will be available. District level civil surgeons said that they don’t know about the actual cause, some of them said they already have the capsules but no instruction for distribution.

Some source said that World Bank needs to confirm the standard of the capsule. And capsule has been sent at the laboratory recognized by WHO. After evaluating the standard then a decision will be made. Vitamin A capsule play important role to improve the nutritional status of the country specially preventing night blindness. Related people said, if vitamin A capsule feeding faced any bar then there will be adverse effect on nutrition.

 Unexpected pregnancies and unsafe MR prevention project

On 10th January 2013 the inauguration of a project titled “Unexpected pregnancy and unsafe MR prevention project” was held at a hotel in Dhaka. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is implementing the project with the collaboration of MarieStopes, Association for prevention of septic abortion Bangladesh (BAPSA), Sushilan and Phulki. Netherland embassy is providing financial support.

 Health and family welfare minister Dr. A.F.M RuhalHaque said if proper information and maternity care are ensured  than the maternal mortality rate can be decreased. Every day on an average 25 mothers die at the time of delivery. Govt. Field level workers are not informed properly about the complications in pregnancy that’s why accidents are happening. The Health Minister urged the NGOs to support govt. for increasing the awareness to identify mother with pregnancy complications and bring them to the health worker.

Senior Secretary of the ministry A M Bodruddoza was the Chair; Netherland country representatives GarbenSeaford DeJong, Directorgeneral of DGFP A KM Amir Hossain and Bangladesh UNFPA representative Arthur Erken were present. Govt and NGOs should work together to overcome the weakness and by increasing mutual cooperation, proper development can be possible.

 National Public Health Conference 2013

National Public Health Conference (NPHC), Bangladesh was  held on January 13-15, 2013 at Radisson BLU Water Garden Hotel, Dhaka, organized by the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare with the technical assistance of WorldHealth Organization (WHO) Country Office for Bangladesh. The theme of the conference is ‘Coordinated Multi-Sectoral Approach to sustain health achievements and meeting 21st century public health challenges.’

Health Minister Ruhul Haque was the chief guest of the conference.HealthSecretaryHumayunKabir said, Health, Population, Health Population and Nutrition Policy is very importance. Interim Director Abbas Bhuiyanm from ICDDRB said that the achievement of healthsector has benefited most of the country's poor populations and women in society.Institutionalization of Public health programs, policies and plans, combinations of different sectors and demographics and disease patterns - these were some of the scientific session of the conference. The other guests were also present: the Prime Minister's Health Adviser Syed Modasser Ali, State Minister for Health majiburaRahman Fakir, PranGopalDatta, vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Medical College.

ShafiqurRahman, officer of health directorate discussedabout health and the environment and possiblechallengesupto 2050. However, due to the increase in global temperature over a large area can be lost. Scientists fear that, storms occurrence will increase further by 10 percent. Agricultural production will be reduced. All these will seriously affect human health.

In a thematic session former vice-chancellor of Chittagong veterinary university Nithis Chandra Debnath said people of Bangladesh are effected by new disease like Bird Flu,Nipah, Anthrax. So animal and environment can’t be separated from heath. He also said Bangladesh is densely populated and a number of animals are here. The country is at risk. To avoid this risk, health, forestry, agriculture, water resources ministry need to work together. The experts said, in Bangladesh the number of elderly people is increasing. The effects of climate change on human health is increasing.To solve these problems new ways need to be explored.

Water shortage has negative effects on the public's health Stanford University professor Stephen Lubi said. In many areas the tube-well water has higher levels of arsenic   than the tolerance level. In large cities around the country including Dhaka Rivers are facing pollution.

In the last thematic session Peter Kim, chief of division of urbanization and climate change, ICDDRB said due to climate change there is a possibility to increase the risk of malaria, dengue, kala-azar, cholera. There is a need for proper monitoring of diseases.

 Department of Drug Control tests Drinks from Market

Harmful elements for the public's health found in seven types of Energy drink. These factors increase the consumers’ addiction and can be the cause of heart disease. Department of Drug Control collected samples of drinks from the market and tested in the central chemical laboratory. The report states that, Bhigo - B, Man Power (colorless liquid), Man Power (opaque liquid), Horse philings, Royal Tiger, Black Horse and the speed are the seven drinks which have the harmful chemical for health. Caffeine and other harmful chemical foundin higher levels. Director General of Drug Control Muhammad Iqbal insists the Government to take necessary steps against the beverage companies which are mixing harmful element.

Professor Faruk said, these can increase the risk of heart disease. Liver and kidneys may be damaged. A B M Abdullah Dean of Medicine at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University also agreed that. He said taking these types of drinks for a long time can lead to gradual memory loss. Pregnant women may give birth to physically handicapped children.

Department of Central chemical laboratory chief chemical examiner Dulal Krishna Sahasaid according to the BSTI standards the Black Horse, speed and Royal Tiger sample contain caffeine that is more than five times the tolerance level. Professor Abdullah said, these drinks can cause irritable mood. This drink is very harmful for children, liver and kidney damage.

 Cabinet Okays law to control baby foods

The cabinet on 28 January 2013 approved a draft law increasing the penalty for its violation in an effort to control and regulate production, marketing and publicity of baby foods substitute to breastfeeding. Publicity or advertisement of substitute baby foods will not be allowed so that it never seems that substitute foods are better than breastfeeding, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf HossainBhuiyan told reporters after the meeting at the Secretariat.

 He said permission must be taken beforehand to publicize baby foods. He added that the proposed law has increased the fine to Tk 5 lakh from existing Tk 5,000 and the jail term to a maximum of three years from two years for any violation.

The law will apply both on companies and individuals, Bhuiyan said, and if any individual or company breached the law, its license would be cancelled. The secretary said the proposed law, "Breastfeeding Substitute Baby Food (Marketing Control) Act, 2013", was an effort to increase awareness about breastfeeding among people.

 Call for new health policies

New projections show Bangladesh’s population for the first time is hovering below 200 million now and will reach 194 million in 2050.  Despite the fact that many more young women are attending school, teenage fertility has been declining much more slowly than older-age fertility, suggesting major family planning efforts with steps to raise the minimum age for marriage.

Maternal deaths came down to 194 per 100,000 live births in 2011 from 576 in 1990 and 322 in 2001, but analysts say “to reach the final hundred meters, business as usual will not be effective”. With ‘exceptional’ progress in child health and survival, causes of under-5 deaths are changing in Bangladesh, which needs changing public health system to address the issue.

But consistent economic growth could not improve the nutritional situation of the country that demands breaking the ‘vicious cycle’ of malnutrition with lifestyle approach. On the other hand, with the increasing trend of overweight, more people are now suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure than before.

These facts were revealed on Wednesday when analysts discussed the final report of the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS) 2011 and policy implications, giving thoughts to health policymakers who will soon review the ongoing sector development programme, HPNSDP. DrTahmeed Ahmed, Director of ICDDR, B’s Nutrition Division, said most of marriages in Bangladesh took place during adolescence and the couples took first child immediately.

As one-fourth adolescent girls are malnourished in the country, the growth restriction of the child begins at the womb and it is born with low birth weight and later becomes malnourished.

He also said that it forms a vicious cycle. This cycle needs to be broken by strategies directed to the life cycle to improve nutrition of adolescent girls, infants and young children and women.”

During 2009-2010 fiscal years, when Bangladesh’s per capita GDP was $ 687, the stunting rate was more than 41 percent. But in Uganda it was 33 percent with $523 per capita GDP. He suggested promoting dietary diversity through nutrition-friendly agriculture as food being available does not necessarily imply good diet.

“Although 65 percent women live in households with food security, one in five food-secure women is malnourished. Even among the wealthiest families, 26 percent children were found stunted,” he said. But families do not get proper awareness messages as it was found in the survey that exposure to family planning messages declined since 2007.

“BCC (behaviour change communication) needs to be strengthened,” said Dr Peter Kim Streatfield, a Director of ICDDR,B Population Division. The BDHS found only one in three women and about half of men were exposed to family planning messages from TV, Radio or newspapers. As teenage fertility has remained as a cause of concern, Streatfield said young women were enrolling at secondary school in record numbers, “but many do not graduate and marry soon after dropping out of school as there are few alternatives in rural areas.”

“The urban formal sector, for example, the textile sector, is no longer absorbing the large numbers it did in the late 1980s and 1990s.“So employment opportunities are needed in rural places,” he said, adding that security of girls is also a concern. DrIshtiaqueMannan, Chief of Party of USAID’s MCHIP project, said human resources issues should be addressed on a priority basis in the health sector.

“HR policies should be reviewed with proper enforcement of transfer, posting, study leave and deputation.” He suggested a number of policies to reach the ‘final hundred meters’ of the 400-metre track of reducing maternal deaths. “Business as usual will no more work. We have to focus on very specific needs. We have to calculate it,” he said.

“We can even introduce task-shifting strategies,” he said since due to lack of anaesthetics, emergency delivery services do not function at rural health facilities. “But if we train nurses with limited anaesthesia only for Caesarean section, we can save many mothers who need it (emergency C-section). And it is happening in many countries like Uganda, Tanzania,” he said.

Dr Shams El Arifeen, an ICDDR, B Director on child health, said diarrhoea was no more a major cause of under-5 deaths in Bangladesh. “Drowning is now responsible for 43 percent of all deaths under-5. But tested and effective interventions are not yet available to prevent it,” he said, suggesting that the public health system must respond to the changing pattern of causes of deaths.

As the BDHS also showed 25 million people aged above 35 years are hypertensive or pre-hypertensive that leads to development of hypertension and 17 million are diabetic or pre-diabetic, Dr Shamim Haider Talukder, CEO of Eminence, an NGO, suggested effective prevention strategies to avoid huge treatment costs. “The current burden suggests that $150 million is needed per year for basic treatment of diabetes and it will increase to $262 million when pre-diabetic people will become diabetic. This figure is one-fourth of the total health budget,” he said.

Health and Family Welfare Ministry’s Senior Secretary MdHumayunKabir said the final BDHS report would help the government modify the ongoing health, population and nutrition sector programmes. Regarded as a ‘quality’ source of information by policymakers and researchers to plan, monitor and improve programmes under the health ministry, the periodic survey is being conducted every three to four years since 1993-94 with the support of USAID.

 Ministry of Agriculture

More climate-smart rice seeds to reach farmers this year

Bangladesh will introduce four more stress-tolerant rice seeds this year -- two saline-tolerant and two submergence-tolerant -- to scale up production by fighting the effects of climate change. Anwar Faruque, director general of the seed wing of the agriculture ministry said that the seeds will make us more prepared to face the impact of climate change.

 The seeds will enter the existing basket of 11 climate-smart rice seeds developed in the last six years as Bangladesh is heavily vulnerable to climate change. Most of these varieties having capacity to fight salinity, drought and submerged condition have started reaching the farmers through government and international agencies such as International Rice Research Institute.

Of the four stress-tolerant seeds, two saline-resistant high-yielding varieties came from Bangladesh Rice Research Institute. Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (Bina) has come up with the rest two submergence-resistant seeds in a bid to cushion growers from crop losses due to floods during the aman season.

 HelalUddin Ahmed, BRRI's chief scientific officer and head of plant breeding division, said the research institute has developed the seeds targeting the boro season in southern Bangladesh. He also added that the two saline-resilient seeds, which are expected to be named BRRI Dhan 61 and 62, have up to 6.5 tonnes of yield potential per hectare at normal condition.Yields will be four tonnes each hectare under saline condition.

 This will help farmers grow rice during the boro season in the south, where 10 lakh hectares of farmland remain unused during the dry season due to salinity intrusion. In February, salinity reaches its peak in the southern coastal region and starts declining with the advent of monsoon, according to agriculturists.The BRRI has earlier developed four saline-resistant rice seeds -- BRRI Dhan-47, 53, 54 and 55.

 But the new ones will have less shattering (fall of grains before being ripe) rate compared to BRRI Dhan-47, said Ahmed of BRRI. Bina earlier introduced two saline-resistant seeds -- Bina Dhan-8 and Bina Dhan-10 that have already started going to the farmers' field. Bina Director (research) MA Salam said that the newly developed submergence-tolerant rice seeds will mature early, within 115-125 days, while the normal rate is 140-160 days.

 Mr. Salam said that the new seeds will also have the potential to withstand 20-25 days in submerged condition. These seeds, which are likely to be named Bina Dhan-11 and Bina Dhan-12, will yield 4.5 tonnes to 5.5 tonnes per hectare. All these newly developed rice seeds have been placed at the technical committee of the National Seed Board for approval.

 Mr. Faruque, the seed wing DG said that they expect to release these seeds this year. He also said that of the already released stress-smart seeds, crop performance of the two submergence-tolerant seeds -- BRRI Dhan-51 and 52 -- are good and Bina Dhan-8 also got popularity among farmers in the south. WaisKabir, executive director of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, said new seeds of wheat, pulses and oilseeds will also be released in 2013.

 Mr. Kabir, the head of the technical committee of the National Seed Board, cited that all are climate change-resilient crops. At the same time, attention will be given to develop crops to bring down farmers' production cost," said Kabir. He also added that these will give Bangladeshis the comfort in rice production. Our wheat output will also rise due to the new varieties. Bangladesh is almost self-sufficient in rice production. The country bagged 3.38 croretonnes of rice in fiscal 2011-12, up from 3.35 croretonnes the previous year -- enough to feed its 15 crore population.

 Govt opens up bio-pesticide business

 The government has started certifying bio-pesticides -- the first move that opens scope for businesses to market environment-friendly pest control agents to farmers for growing safe vegetables and fruits.

 Two types of pheromones and a bio-pesticide received the green light from the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE). NazmulAhsan, DAE's pesticide regulation officer, said  on 23 January 2013 that more biological control agents will be registered by the middle of this year, He also added that they could not allow bio-pesticides to be marketed because there was no legal provision.statingthatthe rules have been amended and now have started approving bio-pesticides for sale to farmers.

 Farmers and consumers will benefit from the increased use of bio-pesticides. DAE's Plant Protection Wing, where Ahsan works, has received applications for registration of nine types of biological control agents. Pesticides Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC), a government-formed panel, approved the items last month.

 Local tea-giant Isphani Ltd got clearance for selling two types of pheromones, which help control pest in cucurbit, mango and guava, the company said. Russel IPM, a UK-based bio-pesticide maker, was also approved for marketing a bio-pesticide that curbs insects of brinjal, chilli, bean and tomato, according to an official of Russel IPM.

 Bio-pesticides came as an alternative to chemical pesticides. The excessive use of chemical pesticides over a long period has deepened health-hazard worries.The use of chemical pesticides trebled to 45,000 tonnes/kilolitres since 2000, spurred by credit-based sales by firms and farmers' urge to protect their crops from pest attacks. The bulk of chemical pesticides are used on rice, but the intensity of use is higher in vegetables, such as eggplants.

 Companies earlier could not market and sell bio-pesticide commercially in the absence of registration, said Syed NurulAlam, head of Entomology Division of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI). The sales of bio-pesticides will open a new horizon for increased cultivation of toxicity-free vegetables, he said. Ispahani Ltd could not launch promotional activities in the absence of registration for pheromones, said Ashraf Uddin Ahmed, the company's business development manager.

 Ministry of Food

 Initiative to build Modern Food Storage

Inauguration ceremony of the project to build modern food storage was held on 24 January 2013 at Sailo platform, Santahar ,Bogra.  It was organized by food directorate. Food Minister Dr. AbdurRazzak was the chief guest.  With the cooperation of Japan International Cooperation Organization (JICA) two storied food storage will be built to ensure risk free, safe food. The capacity of the storage will be 25 thousandmetricton food grain and cost will be 264 crore taka. JICA will provide 202 crore and rest will be provided by Bangladesh Govt. The project will end on October 2014.

 Food minister said present govt has taken effective initiatives  for the improvement in agriculture sector. That’s why Bangladesh is self dependent in food production and also thinking about import.

 The chair was Director General Ahmed Hossain, Directorate of Food, Special guest was  Japan Country Ambassador in Bangladesh  ShiroSadosima, parliamentary committee chairman ImtiazUddinPramanik, parliamentary member AkramHossainChowdhury  and  secretary incharge of food ministry MushfekaIkfat.  The food minister also mentioned that to build 10 Lakh metricton  capacity holding modern food storage  World Bank will provide  loans of  2.5 thousand  crore taka . When this project will be implemented then food safety can be ensured.

 Single agency to ensure safe food

 The government is going to set up a single agency styled Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) to prevent widespread food adulteration and to ensure food safety in the country. The decision was taken at an inter-ministerial meeting at the cabinet division on 23 January 2013 with Food Minister AbdurRazzaque in the chair. Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf HossainBhuiyan and secretaries of the other ministries concerned were present.

 The food minister later told journalists that the proposed agency will be formed by amending the Pure Food Ordinance, 1959. The meeting discussed the draft amendment to the ordinance and those present recommended a provision of maximum 10-year jail term for the food adulterators.

 According to the draft structure of the BFSA, it will have a board comprised of a chairman and five members. They will be appointed for a five-year term. There will be two committees -- Scientific Committee and Inter-sector Collaboration and Coordination Committee -- under the board. A chief executive officer will run the BFSA and it will have five divisions -- Surveillance & Enforcement Division, Food Safety Laboratory Division, Quality Assurance (CODEX) Division, Risk Assessment & Communication Division, and Resources and Support Division.

 Razzaque said most food items are now being adulterated and this is very harmful to health. At present, various ministries like health, food, commerce, local government and rural development; and city corporations, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute have been operating to ensure quality of food and prevent adulteration as per their own regulations, he mentioned. The minister noted that lack of cooperation among these agencies is obstructing effective steps to ensure quality of food and prevent adulteration. And the level of food adulteration has created a panic in the society.

 He said the Pure Food Ordinance was amended in 2005, and the local government ministry was given the specific responsibility of checking food adulteration. But it has said recently it is unable to do the job properly due to shortage of manpower and the burden of other responsibilities. Razzaque said all staffs working under different ministries to ensure food quality and prevent adulteration will be transferred to the BFSA. According to its draft structure, it will operate from the capital and down to upazila. There will be teams for surveillance, inspection, and prosecution. Executive magistrates will work under it and they will exercise executive authority.

 The draft amendment to the ordinance will be finalized in the next inter-ministerial meeting for approval by the cabinet and then it will be made a law. Unabated sale of adulterated foodstuffs is posing high health risks across the country. Excessive use of chemicals like formalin, calcium carbide, pesticides and artificial growth regulators on a wide range of food items including fruits, vegetables and fish has led to mounting concern among the consumers. They have long been demanding an end to this situation.

Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC)

The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved some project of total 3692 crore . Among those a school feeding project was approved. The project is to provide nutritious food for about 26 lakh primary school students. The budget of the project is 1578 crore.

 The program was held at NEC conference room of Shere Bangla Nagar on 22 January 2013. The Prime Minister and ECNEC chairperson Sheikh Hasina was the chair. In that conference Finance Minister Abul Mal Abdul Muhit , planning minister AK Khandoker , Agriculture Minister MotiaChowdhury and other senior officers were present.

 To increase attendance of primary school in food insecured area and to improve nutritional status for the proper development of children health and education is the aim of this project. Under this project, 26 lakh, 40 thousand children of govt and registered private primary school, community school, Madresa , child welfare trust school will be provided  75 gm nutritious  biscuit on every school day. Among other approved project of ECNEC a fresh water shrimp farming project of 56 crore was there.