Bangladesh Government Activities February 2013

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

Experts fear major health threat for climate change

Climate change needs to be considered as a major health threat since it directly affects food, nutrition, water and livelihoods, said speakers at a meeting on 31st January 2013. Diarrhoea, malnutrition, malaria, dengue and water and food-borne diseases may spread alarmingly in regions vulnerable to climate change, they said.

However, these speculations were based on information available at present and may prove wrong, they said. The meeting was organized in the capital's Cirdap auditorium to disseminate findings of a baseline survey, “Risk reduction and climate change impact on health sector in Bangladesh”. 

The Climate Change and Health Promotion Unit of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and The University of Newcastle, Australia jointly conducted the survey. Dr Iqbal Kabir, the study's principal investigator, said Bangladesh, particularly the vulnerable population in the coastal region, was not yet ready to face the health risks of climate change due to a lack of awareness.

In a keynote presentation, he also stressed the need to further strengthen school health promotions and primary healthcare services in community clinics to reduce risks of diarrhoea, dengue, pneumonia, typhoid, malaria and childhood malnutrition. Prof Syed Modasser Ali, the prime minister's health adviser, as chief guest, said developed countries, being responsible for climate change, should assist developing nations to cope with the health problems.


Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) Full Country Evaluation 

“Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) Full Country Evaluation” was held on 24th February 2013 at Sasakawa Auditorium, ICDDRB, Mohakhali, Dhaka. Chief Guest was Mr. Md. Humayun Kabir, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Special Guest was Prof. Dr. Khondhaker Md. Shefyetullah,

Director General, Directorate General of Health Service, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. In the meeting there was discussion on Bangladesh EPI Programme –past, present and future, description of GAVI project, GAVI full country evaluation etc. Dr. S SA J Md. Musa, Director- Primary Health Care & Line Director MNC & AH, Director General of Health Services, Dr. Abul Kalam Azad, Additional Director General (Planning & Development) & Line Director, Management Information System Dr. AFM Saiful Islam, Additional Director General, DGHS, and other experts were present.

Institute of Public Health and Nutrition (IPHN) 

2nd launching of RENEW

Eminence in partnership with Institute of Public Health and Nutrition (IPHN) and Population Reference Bureau(PRB) organized the 2nd national level launching event of RENEW (Reenergizing Nutrition—Expanding Worldwide) multimedia presentation named “Bangladesh on the Move”, on 24 February, 2012 at CIRDAP Auditorium, Dhaka. 

The objective was to introduce the multimedia presentation ‘Bangladesh on the Move’ that is designed to raise the visibility of malnutrition in mothers and children and sensitize high level policy makers of different ministries towards taking policies that can improve the situation. This multimedia presentation uses latest innovative technologies for data visualization, including the pioneering Trendanlyzer (bubble graphs) for high level policy audiences and leaders.

Facilitated by Prof. Dr Shah Monir Hossain, Senior National Advisor, FAO, the event was graced by Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Food as Chief Guest; Mr Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, Honorable Secretary, Ministry of Information and Ms Mushfeka Ikfat, Honorable Secretary of Ministry of Food as special guests and Dr Wais Kabir, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) as the chair. Opening the session, Professor Dr Shah Monir Hossain greeted

everyone and explained the objective of the RENEW multimedia  presentation – which is to present the prevailing  nutrition situation of the country and how we can  overcome the difficulties. In his welcome speech, Dr  Mustafizur Rahman, Program Manager, National Nutrition  Services re-emphasized that nutrition is a multidimensional issue and no ‘one’ organization or institution can address  the challenges of nutrition.

Dr Md Shamim Hayder Talukder, Chief Executive Officer, Eminence briefed an overview of RENEW Multimedia Presentation that included formation of Task Force, development of the presentation and its finalization. 

After that the most important part of this event was the multimedia presentation “Bangladesh on the Move” showcased  by Dr Zeba Mahmud, Country Director, Micronutrient Initiatives.

In the event, a number of around 60 representatives, officials from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Food and Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief were present.

Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, Director, Centre for Nutrition and Food Safety, ICDDR, B cited two ways to address the malnutrition issues – one is Nutrition Direct Intervention while the other is Indirect Nutrition intervention. Naming nutrition as a critical issue, Mr Mukutmoni, Additional Secretary, Disaster Management and Relief Division urged all the sectors or ministries  of Bangladesh including food, health, disaster, education etc to work together to reduce malnutrition and ensure  proper nutrition for our countrymen. 

This panel discussion was followed by an open discussion session moderated by Professor Dr Shah Monir Hossain. During his speech, the Special Guest of the evening Mr Hedayetullah Al Mamoon Secretary, Ministry of Information argued, ensuring nutrition principally depends on two things – enhancing capability and addressing ignorance. He founds his hope in Vision 2021.

Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Food argued food security has three dimensions – availability, accessibility and nutrition knowledge. He mentioned how the present government is trying to increase per capita income so as to enhance their purchasing power. 

Dr Wais Kabir, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council in his concluding remark as the Chair of the evening, put emphasis on the social or cultural context. In the event it was strongly felt that in order to improve nutrition situation a very well concerted, synchronized and coordinated across different ministries is required.

Small Group Meetings with Journalists and NWG under RENEW


As the regular activity under the project ‘Renergizing Nutrition Expanding Worldwide (RENEW)’ Eminence conducts small group meeting with journalists and Nutrition Working Group (NWG). The objective of these small group meetings was to present RENEW mulitimedia presentation known as ‘Bangladesh on move’. The goal of this presentation is to draw attention of all stakeholders towards the present nutrition situation in the Bangladesh and thereby to bring policies that could fill the existing gap. In the small group meeting with journalists, total 28 media personnnels from both  electronic and print media were participated in that dissemination meeting. The meeting brought a very fruit full discussion among the journalists. In the open discussion session the journalists shared their own experiences and ideas. However, they came up with a common understanding that nutrition is yet to be mainstreamed in Bangladesh, in which the media has a very strong role to play. 

In the small group meeting with NWG, nutritionists, experts, researchers, practioners, academicians and representatives from national and international organizations  were invovled insightful discussion and advised on how nutrition situation can be improved with the use of ‘Bangladesh on move’ multimedia presentiation. They believed, in addition to policy reinforcement, policy leveraging and coordination across the policies is of utmost necessity.

In the meeting with journliasts, the RENEW multimedia presentation with the title “Bangladesh on the Move” was showacased by Dr. Zeba Mahmud, Country Director, Micronutritients Initiative (MI). Moreover, Professor Dr. AFM Saiful Islam, Additional Director General (ADG), Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) graced the occasion as the chair. He stated that media has a key role in drawing everyones attention on nutrition, so he directed journalists with their important role to lead this important agenda forward. Professor Ekhlasur Rahman, Director, Institute of Public Health Nutriiton and Line Director, National Nutrition Services (NNS) was the Chief Guest in this meeting. 

Dr. Mohsin Ali, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF, Abu Sayeed Khan, Managing Editor, Shomokal, Dr. S.K.Roy, Chairperson, Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation(BBF) presented several nutritional issues such as re-focusing on nutritional investment  in the 1000 days window of opportunity 

Numerous important points were brought into discussion by the panelists Nurul Islam Hasib, BD News 24; Sishir Moral, Prothom Alo and Shahnaz Munni, ATN Bangla. Like to make focused advocacy presentations so as to make every relevant stakeholder become aware of the role they can play, policymakers and nutrition relevant people provide sufficient nutritional knowledge to media, electronic media to focus more on nutrition and to bring up certain concers of nutrition that can make nutrition leading news of the media.

On the other hand, in small group meeting, with Nutrition Working Group that took place at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, 30 people from different International NGOs participated in the presentaiton. They brought very positive impression on the presentation and figured out some ways to roll out this presentation through their existing programs and projects. However, few of the participants commented on existing gaps on the issue such as overnutrition, gap in financing, which might help policy makers look into this. Before showcasing the presentation by Dr. Zeba Mahmud, Country Director, MI,Dr. Md Shamim Hayder Talukder, CEO, Eminence oferred a briefed overview for the participants. 

Institute of Public Health and Nutrition (IPHN), icddr,b, UNICEF, and the Global Alliance for

Improved Nutrition (GAIN)

Bangladeshi women and children badly suffer from lack of essential nutrients in their diet. This robs them of the ability to fight diseases, retards their growth and cripple their intellect, a survey reveals. The first of its kind National Micronutrients Survey shows 20 percent of children aged between 6 and 59 months have vitamin A deficiencies while 31 percent have anaemia and 45 percent suffer zinc deficiencies. 

The rate of Vitamin-A deficiency is 21 percent among the school going children aged between six to 14 years and anaemia afflicts 17 percent of the children in this age group. The iron deficiency was found low in all groups –11 percent among children aged between 5 and 59 months, 4 percent among those between 6 and 11 years of age and 7 percent among the women.

To everyone’s surprise, the survey found iodine deficiency among 40 percent school going children and 42 percent among the non-pregnant and not-breastfeeding women in Bangladesh where non-idodised salt cannot be publicly  sold by law. However, the survey found that the deficiencies of those major nutrients was more severe among slum dwellers than among other rural and urban population segments. 

Comparing statistics of anaemia affliction 13 years ago,, researchers say it has declined among different age groups , but  they were worried about the high levels of zinc deficiencies that can retard the growth of children in Bangladesh, where  the rate of stunted growth is as high as 40 percent or more among children below five years of age.

The Institute of Public Health and Nutrition (IPHN), International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease and Research, Bangladesh  (ICDDR,B), Unicef and Swiss-based Global Action for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) jointly conducted the survey applying multistage random sampling procedure in urban and rural areas and slums across Bangladesh. The findings were shared at a seminar in the city on 17 February 2013. The National Micronutrient Survey is intended to create a benchmark against which the progress of health and nutrition programmes in reducing micronutrient deficiencies can be measured.

Senior Secretary for health Md Humayun Kabir said the findings would help ‘design appropriate intervention strategies’  that would be discussed during the forthcoming review of the national nutrition programme which prioritises micronutrients. Speaking at the dissemination seminar, Professor Tahmeed Ahmed, Director of Nutrition & Food Security at  icddr,b said, "With the survey complete, the most important work lies ahead. We need to ensure that this Information is  used to influence policy and programming for nutrition."

He said presence of phytate in the diet inhibits zinc absorption, “But we can do little to check it,” he said, suggesting consumption of more animal proteins for better zinc absorptions.

Expressing his commitment to the national survey, UNICEF Representative, Pascal Villeneuve said, "We now need all relevant decision makers, academics and other partners to develop evidence-based recommendations which will lead  to a reduction of micronutrient deficiency disorders using an appropriate mix of short, medium and long term  approaches."

"The survey can help policymakers and political leaders review and refocus current programming so that interventions focus on reducing key micronutrient deficiencies among the poorest and the most marginalised Bangladeshis", noted Marc Van Ameringen, Executive Director of GAIN.

Md Humayun Kabir, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was present as special guest at the seminar,  along others Professor Ekhlasur Rahman, Director, IPHN; and Dr Tina van den Briel, Director of Programme Delivery,  Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition were present.


 Ministry of Agriculture (MoA)

A seminar on “Seed Industry Development and Seed Technological Endeavors as Means of Acquiring Benefits,”

 Industries Minister Dilip Barua on 9 February 2013 declared quality seeds production in an industry -- a move which will help enhance the productivity of agricultural produces. The declaration will help seed producers get bank loans, receive government incentives and expand backward linkage activities.

 “We will soon publish a gazette notification about this,” Barua said at a seminar on seed technology in the city. Bangladesh Society of Seed Technology organized the seminar in association with the seed wing of the agriculture ministry at the auditorium of Khamar Bari.

 The use of modern machinery in production is helping the agricultural sector take shape, the minister said. Every year demand for food grains increases by 2-2.5 lakh tonnes although lands under agricultural farming decline due to the population boom, industry insiders said.“We have to focus on productivity with the use of quality seeds,” Barua said. The country produces 2.2 lakh tonnes of quality seeds a year, which is only 20 percent of its annual demand, according to industry insiders.

 At the event, seed producers urged the government to include quality seed production as a thrust sector of the National Industrial Policy 2010. If the government provides policy support, more entrepreneurs will come to produce quality seeds locally and reduce dependency on seed imports, Mohammed Masum, chairman of Supreme Seed Company, told The Daily Star.

 “Agricultural productivity will increase by 15-20 percent if farmers get high quality and good graded seeds,” said Masum, who is also a former president of Bangladesh Seed Growers, Dealers and Merchants Association (presently known as Bangladesh Seed Association). Around 30 private companies are involved in supplying quality seeds to agri-products growers through 17,000 dealers countrywide to help flourish the seed production sector employing around 5 lakh farmers.

 Prof Moinul Haque Professor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, Director General of Seed Branch Anwar Faruque, Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) Chairman SM Nazmul Islam, Director General of Agricultural Extention Directorate Mukul Chandra Roy, President of the Bangladesh seed association FR Malik took part in the discussion. The seminar was chaired by Nazmul Huda president of Bangladesh Society of seed technology.

 Commercial cultivation of high- priced and quick growing fruits

 Commercial cultivation of high- priced and quick growing fruits gains ground everywhere in Rangpur division in recent years bringing fortunes to hundreds of commoners, small and marginal farmers, reports BSS. According to experts in the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), cultivation of high-priced fruits continues expanding, mostly through private initiatives and integrated approaches, bringing a silent revolution in the rural economy.

 The motivational activities and support being provided by the DAE and other agri-departments have proved to be effective in achieving the success through expanded cultivation of these fruits around the homesteads and in fallow lands. As per an estimated statistics, over 20,000 families including the landless, ultra poor, women, small and marginal farmers have already achieved self-reliance by cultivating these high- priced and quick growing fruits in the division.

 Horticulture Specialist of the DAE Khandker Md Mesbahul Islam said these families have achieved self- reliance through farming quick growing and cross- variety fruits like banana, baukul and applekul, papaya, lemon, strawberry, water melon, wax apple, 'panifal', guava and others. Besides, some 80 varieties of seasonal traditional fruits including 40 indigenous species is being cultivated annually in over 100,000 hectares lands including homesteads in all the eight districts  of Rangpur division, he said.

 The newly harvested baukul and applekul have already flooded the local markets with excellent price and the other varieties will appear in the subsequent months, market sources said.

 Fruit farmers Rezaul Karim, Babu Mian and Kamrunnahar said the common people are also meeting nutritional demands through producing fruits around their homesteads as market prices of fruits are going beyond their reach day by day.

 They said that a silent revolution has taken place in the rural areas in recent years as many farmers and common people have become self- reliant through producing both high-priced and traditional fruits.

 "The rich can buy fruits to meet their demands of vitamins, minerals and nutrition while poor should produce those for the same purpose and earning extra money to change fates for better living," they said.

 Nursery owners Abdur Rahim and Shafiqul Islam said they are earning excellent profits by selling saplings of high- valued and quick growing fruits and also wood, medicinal and other tree saplings from their nurseries in recent years. Deputy Director of DAE Feroz Ahmed told BSS the government has been providing various assistance for expanding fruit farming.


Ministry of Finance

Ministry of Finance encouraged to increase farm loans

Farm loan disbursement rose by around 16 percent to Tk 7,723.58 crore in the first seven months of the current fiscal year compared to the same period a year ago. All commercial banks collectively disbursed 54.66 percent of their annual target of Tk 14,130 crore in agriculture loans during July-January, according to Bangladesh Bank data.

The disbursement was 48.37 percent or Tk 6,675.36 crore during the same period in fiscal 2011-12. However, 19 banks disbursed below 50 percent of their annual target during the period of the current fiscal year. “The central bank’s move to encourage banks to disburse farm loans has contributed to the current year's growth,” said a BB official.

He said the finance ministry has also recently asked banks to increase farm loans. Six state-owned banks -- Sonali, Janata, Agrani, Rupali, Bangladesh Krishi Bank and Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank -- disbursed Tk 4,532.47 crore, or 52.66 percent of their annual target of Tk 8,607 crore. Private and foreign banks disbursed Tk 3,191.12 crore, which was 57.78 percent of their total annual target of Tk 5,523 crore.

Ministry of Industries

16 refinery organizations will mixed vitamin A with edible oil

16 refinery organizations are interested in mixing vitamin A with edible oil. A memorandum of understanding was signed in this regards on 13 February 2013 among these organization at ministry of industry premise.

Under this deal, 16 premix dosing pump and around 16 metric tonnes of vitamin A have already provided in the refinery. A logo has developed to make it easy for mass people to recognize the fortified oil. A draft law has already created by ministry of industry to mix vitamin A with edible oil. This seminar was organized to discuss about the law.  Industry Minister Dilip Barua was the chair. Experts said that to ensure public health, edible oli should not sell openly it should be in bottle or in pack. To prevent the health risk of vitamin A lackings govt is going to make it mendatory to mix vitamin A with edible oil.

Associate professor of Dhaka University Ridwanul Haque, industry secretary, Md. Moinuddin Abdullah, GAIN Bangladesh Director Basanta Kumar Kar, edible oil refinery organizations committee chairman Fazlur Rahman and other representatives form refinery organization participated.

Ministry of Food

Visit to National Food Safety Laboratory

Food minister Dr. Md. Abdur Razzak said govt has taken initiatives to ensure the supply of safe food and it should be successful at any cost. He said that to prevent food adulteration and ensure safe food supply is a difficult task. But the use of harmful chemical in food is threatening for the nation. Food minister said these on 19 February 2013 at the time of visiting National Food Safety Laboratory of IPH, Mohakhali. At that time he was informed about different division. How food sample is collected and in which method it is being examined, what types of chemicals is found minister enquiring about this detail. He said that to ensure safe food supply coordination is needed among different ministries and organizations. Deciding work plan is essential now. He emphasized on sanitary inspectors training to collect sample correctly.

And taking care of laboratory is important. Chief Analyst of the laboratory Dr. Md. Abdur Razzak Mia said, there is a scope for 400 types of test in this lab on 107 samples mentioned in 1959 Pure food law.

He said adulated items are being mixed with milk, spices, mustard oil, and Palm oil. Fruits, water and dried fish are also adulated. Adulated items are mixed with different sweets, soft drinks, juice, jeli, jam, ice cream. This new laboratory has the facilities to test insecticide use in Apple, Tomato and dried fish. Palm oil and soya bin oil test, test of artificial color use, arsenic use in water and rice, use of lead in turmeric and caffeine in tea and soft drinks can also check. Besides these there is a scope for microbiological test.

Director General Mr. Naser Farid, Food Planning and monitoring unit (FPMU), Dr. Shah Monir Hossain ,former Director  general of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) , Director of IPHN and other senior level officers attended .

Inauguration ceremony of food storage

Dr. Md. Abdur Razzak said govt food storage capacity is more than 17 lakh tones now. On 23 February 2013 in an inauguration ceremony of food storage at Sherpur Sadar he said that. The capacity of storage is one thousand metric tones. He said that this storage is building as the part of new food storage building planning with the aim of increase the capacity of govt food storage.

He said that low capacity of govt can’t buy adequate food grain. That’s why sometimes farmers are depriving from actual price of crop. Present govt has a plan to increase the capacity of food storage to 20 lakh tones. The capacity will increase almost another two lakh tones on next June.

Minister said that adequate and good quality rice is available in Sherpur district. District Rice Mill owner Committee Chairman Ashraful Islam chaired the program. Parliament member Atiur Rahman Atiq , Director General of food Directorate Ahmed Hossain Khan and general editor of district rice mill owner committee Asaduzzaman Rowshan attended the meeting.

 Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock

EU happy over safety, quality in Bangladesh fisheries sector

European Union head of delegation and ambassador to Bangladesh William Hanna on 20 February 2013 expressed his happiness over the improvement made in taking safety measures and ensuring quality of products in Bangladesh’s fisheries sector.

The government and the private sector have worked together to promptly resolve the problems in the fisheries sector since the issues of safety and quality of products were raised by the European importers, he said. Hanna also noted the improvements in the fisheries production and processing could also serve as an example to the country’s readymade garment sector, now facing threats of restrictions on the export to European countries.

He was addressing a discussion titled ‘Bangladesh-EU Partnership: Better Access of Bangladesh Fishery Products to Global Market’ organized by the Department of Fisheries and UNIDO at a city hotel. Hanna cautioned all the stakeholders in the fisheries production to remain vigilant over the safety issue.‘The risk is not over, things can change in a week,’ he said, adding that the audit team of the Food and Veterinary Office of the European Commission could launch a fresh audit anytime.

The EU decided to repeal the rule of testing 20 per cent of food consignments on a compulsory basis after an audit team of FVO, during their visit to Bangladesh in March, found marks of improvement in the residue monitoring system, particularly in the laboratories.

Speaking as the chief guest, fisheries and livestock minister Abdul Latif Biswas said, ‘There is no alternative to ensuring quality and compliance of the fish production and processing in the country if the earning from fisheries export is to be sustained.’

In the face of strict food safety regulations in the European countries, the government of Bangladesh has improved its regulation and monitoring system and the export is now increasing every year, he said.

 The ministers also unveiled the cover of a booklet on the achievements made in the fisheries production under the Better Work and Standards Programme-Better Fisheries Quality Project, jointly implemented by the DOF and UNIDO, over the last three years.

 Chaired by DOF director general Syed Arif Azad, the discussion was also addressed by fisheries and livestock secretary Ujjal Bikash Dutta and Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters’ Association vice-president Mahmudul Hossain.