Bangladesh Government Activities- March 2013


Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

Lifespan of Bangladeshis increased: Health minister

Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr AFM Ruhal Haque said that the average lifespan of Bangladeshi people has increased from 65 years to 69 in the last four years due to improvement in the health sector, on March 3, 2013. Although the government has achieved numerous successes in the health sector, those have not been recognized due to lack of publicity, the minister told reporters at his secretariat office. Reading a report, the minister said the current population growth rate is 1.37 percent while it was 1.41 percent in 2008.  He also added that the rate of underweight babies fell to 36 percent in 2011 from 2007's 41 percent.

Besides, some infectious diseases including polio were removed and other diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, avian influenza and anthrax have been brought under control, he said. He said, “More than 15 crore people have been attended to through around 13,000 community clinics across the country.”Ruhal Haque said the government has appointed sufficient number of doctors, nurses and other health assistants to extend health services to the root level.

Source: The Daily Star


Vitamin A capsules to reduce death risk of children

The Vitamin A capsule campaign has been successfully conducted between children aged up to five years in different centers across the country.The campaign was conducted under the auspices of the Institute of Public Health Nutrition, National Nutrition Services and Family Planning Directorate under the Health and Family Welfare Ministry with the assistances of UNICEF and WHO. The campaign was aimed at reducing death risks of babies, preventing night blindness, bitot's spots, corneal lesions, weight losses, poor growth and anemia from worm infestations to ensure healthy growth of the children.Earlier, a press release of the Institute of Public Health Nutrition said, the vitamin A capsules being fed to children are germ-free and totally safe.

“The Vitamin A plus campaign is being conducted across the country using quality, germ-free and totally safe vitamin A capsules tested in the WHO-recognized international laboratory," said the release.

It urged all to feed the children with the vitamin A capsules to reduce child mortality rate.The Deputy Commissioners, Civil Surgeons, Deputy Directors of Family Planning Department, Upazila Health and Family Planning Officers and officials inaugurated the campaign in different upazilas and districts across the country in association with different GOB-NGOs.

Source: The Independent


Board Conference of Gavi Alliance

On  21st and 22nd March  2013  76th   board conference of  Gavi Alliance  was held in Spain and  a board conference  of    Partners in Population and Development (PPD) was held in Uganda on 25th to 27th  March 2013 . Prof. Dr. A. F. M. Ruhal Haque attended both. Gavi Alliance is providing support to the developing countries worldwide for children vaccination program.  Health Minister of Bangladesh was selected as the South Asian representative for the success of vaccination program. Ministers from different countries and the Queen of Spain joined the conference of Barcelona. To increase south-south cooperation activities and skill in Population control and development, women welfare and Mother Health sector PPDs conference was held in Uganda.

Source: Partners in Population and Development (PPD)



RENEW Small Group Meeting with Honorable Members of the National Parliament

RENEW small group meeting with Honorable Members of the National Parliament was held on  4th  March , 2013 at IPD Conference Room of National Parliament, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka.  The program was organized by Eminence in partnership with Institute of Public Health and Nutrition (IPHN) and Population Reference Bureau (PRB).

The day has been started by the welcome speech of Dr. Md. Shamim Hayder Talukder, CEO, Eminence about an overview of RENEW project.  By expressing his gratitude to all the distinguished participants to unit together in the common interest and goal to create a malnutrition free Bangladesh, he mentioned the importance of identifying the gaps of our steps in Nutrition sectors.  Moreover, he emphasized on the vicious cycle  of Malnutrition as its effects are passed from one generation to the next as malnourished mothers give birth to infants who struggle to develop and thrive and if these children are girls, they often grow up to become malnourished mothers themselves. Globally, malnutrition attributes almost one-half of all child deaths. And those who experienced malnutrition in their youth and survived are often left vulnerable to illnesses, stunted growth, and later in life intellectual impairment and chronic diseases. Finally he mentioned the efforts of the governance to enhance the infrastructure of Health Ministry by setting up Community Clinics that provide several health services in each union in Bangladesh.

Prof. Shah Monir Hossain, Senior Advisor (Honorary), Eminence, Senior National Advisor FAO, mentioned that malnutrition is one of the major causes of child death. He also agreed with Dr. Md. Shamim Hayder Talukder, about the status of Malnutrition in Bangladesh now and the impacts for it.

The meeting carried on by the program presentation of Kakali Poddar, Assistant Coordinator, Eminence. The Presentation titled “Bangladesh on the move” emphasized on maternal and child health especially 1000 days windows of opportunities. It ends with the promising side of more investment in nutrition sector to improve the nutritional status of Bangladesh as well as to scale up our economy.

Dr. Tahmeed Ahmed, Director of Centre for Nutrition & Food Security, ICDDR,B dissimilated the GDP of Bangladesh, Nepal and Uganda respectively 755$, 500$ and 500$. This made us ahead from other countries with our financial growth. However, we fall behind in the field of Nutrition from them. He also mentioned that this year Bangladesh has produced 35 million metric ton rice which is a revolution of hybridization in rice. If we can made that revolution on paddy field we would achieve that in Nutrition sector as well as, Dr. expressed his assiduity.  He also requested the policy makers to make more investment in nutrition field.

Dr. S. M. Mustafizur Rahman, Programme Manager, NNS, IPHN strongly present that to protect the nation from malnutrition is not the responsibilities of Health ministry only. It needs the support from all departments with an integrated service plan. He mainly focused on 1000 days opportunity windows. All the brain cells of a child formed when he is in womb, so it is very important to ensure proper nutrition support of mother and child on that period.

He also invoked everyone to provide nutritional support from his own sphere. Moreover he suggested that we would change our status by changing our attitude and behavior.

Honorable MP and Whip Shagufta Yasmin emphasized on the promulgation of Breastfeeding.  She suggested three very key points to promote nutritional status, those are; vast promotion about nutrient of different typed of foods, encourage school children to drink enough water and provide a mixed balanced diet in schools as tiffin.  She implored to address the adolescent group.

Md. Atikur Rahman Atik, Honorable MP, identified that children from urban area are more vulnerable than those are in rural area. For reason he declared that rural people can easily access fresh fruits and vegetables which make them stronger and more preventive from disease than people who live in urban area.

Monowar Hossain Chowdhury agreed with the idea of Md. Atikur Rahman Atik and he also said because there are plenty of free spaces in village children can even play a lot which covers their need physical exercise. We generally take food as our taste satisfaction but not to the standard of nutrition.  He also mentioned that we have almost 30 media channels now so we should make use of them by advertising more information on health and nutrition.

Opportunities of jobs for ultra poor women or empowering women should be taken in consideration, Honorable MP, Noor Afroz Ali added as a suggestion of nutritional problem. Mir Showkat Ali Badshah, Honorable MP, draw attention on Family Planning issue and how this burning population impact on our nutritional status. Frequent pregnancy makes the mother vulnerable as well as raises the possibilities of Low Birth Wight of the child. We should be more concerned about family planning and ensure the practice of it. The government has increased the maternity leave from 4months to six months to protect mother and children from being malnourished, which is a good initiative, he said.

Shawkat Ara Begum honorable MP focused on the absence of union based posted doctors. She has drawn the attention of Health ministry that they should be concerned and ensured the presence of the appointed doctors in each union to provide proper medical service to the rural villagers and save their life. She also suggested ensuring the allowance of pregnant mother in a fair way.

Honorable MP, Nurjahan Begum added another negligence of doctors now a day that they encourage to go for seizer not normal delivery. They are giving injections right after the delivery which makes the mothers seriously weak and unable to do regular chores. She suggested that all of us from our own sector should encourage the mothers to go for normal delivery and make them conscious about regular hygiene.

Prof. M.S. Akbar, chairman of Red Cross drawn several causes for malnutrition in Bangladesh. Such as; Poverty, Lack of knowledge, Gender discrimination, viral infections, lack of treatment after being sick, improper care in pregnancy, lack of family education, insufficient practice of breastfeeding, unbalanced food production and so on. He said we should introduce a Integrated Nutrition Health Service System, where every department and other private sectors will contribute their support to kick the malnutrition out of Bangladesh.

Finally the Honorable Deputy Speaker, Shawkat Ali, MP made a conclusive speech for the meeting. With the former ideas he strongly added that not only in pregnancy or lactation period we should pay attention on every stage of a girl’s life cycle. Additionally he referred that urbanization should be re-urbanized towards district level from division or capital.  As the population is increasing with such a high rate we should be very concerned about family planning. And that is how we will annihilate malnutrition from our country. The meeting end at 1.00 pm with the promise to make Bangladesh free from malnutrition. 

Source: Eminence


Ministry of Agriculture (MoA)

Fast-growing rice next on the list

Farmers are likely to get a new variety of rice seeds within next year that will mature in 105 days or three and a half months, the quickest among all the varieties currently out on the fields.
The rice seed, which will be suitable for cultivation during the aman season, was developed by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) through hybridization of a local rice variety with the high-yielding BRRI Dhan-39.

Md Alamgir Hossain also assured that the grain quality will be fine as a BRRI scientist who has been involved in the seed’s development from the beginning. He also said that the yield would be similar to those of the existing short-duration high-yield variety seeds — BRRI Dhan-33 and BINA-7. He even added that farmers can harvest the latest one at least 10 days ahead of those two. BRRI Dhan-33 matures in 118 days, while BINA-7, developed by Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA), matures in 110-120 days — both a month earlier than BR-11, the preferred variety for the aman season.

The two short-duration rice crops help farmers fight seasonal hunger or monga and mitigate the risks of crop losses from natural disasters, such as floods and cyclone. More importantly, they have widened scope for farmers to grow potato, mustard, wheat or vegetables, and thus have contributed to increasing crop intensity and overall agricultural production. Wais Kabir, executive chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) said that the shorter duration varieties are surely gaining popularity. They let farmers add a new crop to their annual cultivation plan, providing a new channel to increase their income.

“We have recommended that the National Seed Board give approval to the seed, considering the necessity to raise agricultural production through increased crop intensity,” Kabir added.Helal Uddin Ahmed, chief scientific officer and head of plant breeding of BRRI, expects the variety to get the Seed Board’s approval in the next couple of months.

Farmers may get the seed within next year after all necessary formalities are complete, Kabir of BARC said. The new rice variety, expected to be named BRRI Dhan-62, will have 9 percent protein and 18-20 parts per million zinc contents after milling, higher than those of the already popular high-yield seeds, Hossain, the BRRI scientist, said. “The better zinc content will help reduce micronutrient deficiency among children, while the increased protein will be good for the poor, who get 58 percent of their protein requirements from rice.”

Source: The Daily Star


Ministry of Food

MoU Signed with Thailand

Bangladesh and Thailand have signed an arrangement on extension of validity of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on rice trade under government to government (G2G) basis. Food Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque and Thai Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom inked the deal in Bangkok on 29 March 2013, said a PID handout. With the arrangement, Bangladesh now can import up to one million metric tonnes of Thai standard parboiled rice subject to production situation in both countries and at an agreed price prevailing at the time of actual purchase till February 16, 2016. Earlier in 2010, both the countries signed the MoU which was valid till February 28, 2013. Before signing the arrangement, both the ministers held a bilateral discussion when the food minister underscored the importance of the arrangement from the context of Bangladesh’s food security.

He said this arrangement would help ensure food security in Bangladesh. Being a traditional friend and close neighbour, Thailand would remain a reliable source of supply at time of need and crises in the country, he added.

Source: QuanTapedia


Nutrition Safety

Food Minister Dr. Abdur Razzak calls FAO to come forward to ensure nutrition safety besides foods in Bangladesh. He said Bangladesh has achieved rice sufficiency and food safety has ensured for all level people. Next nutrition safety will get more emphasis and FAO have come forward in this regards. On 14th March 2013 Minister was talking about this with the newly joined Country Representative Mick Robson.

Food Minister said that at present rice production has increased three times from liberation. Govt has taken different initiatives to increase production. FAO has implemented some effective program   for production of Granule. A law has prepared for control of adulteration and chemical use in food. More support is needed for ensuring population’s nutrition safety for crop diversification and fisheries sector. USAID representative said the food safety of Bangladesh is an example that can follow. Food Secretary Musfeka Ikfat, Director General of Food Planning and Monitoring unit were present there.

Source: FAO Bangladesh


Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock

Formalin detection point for fish buyers at Karwan Bazar

The government on 12 March 2013 re-launched a formalin testing centre at Karwan Bazar in the city in a bid to give fish buyers a facility to check for the poisonous chemical on the spot — free of cost. The centre will remain open from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily to facilitate formalin testing with a device. State Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Abdul Hai inaugurated the centre, which will be operated in a public private partnership.
Fisheries and home ministries will monitor the activities of the centre with support from Square Consumer Products Ltd. They have already trained two volunteers to operate the machine.
Earlier, the centre was launched on 14 July, 2009 by five government officials as part of their professional skill development under a project, said Monowar Hossain Akhand, a deputy secretary of the home ministry, involved with the project. But it was forced out of operations due to manpower shortage and monitoring problem in January 2012.

Hai said that formalin is poisonous and harmful to health and can cause cancer in the stomach and lungs. The fisheries and livestock ministry has so far provided 80 sophisticated formalin detection machines across the country. Hai also added that his ministry has so far declared seven fish markets in the city free from formalin. Any traders selling contaminated fish will be given exemplary punishment. The centre’s activity will be monitored on Fridays and Saturdays regularly.

Source: The Daily Star