World Population Day was celebrated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare through a press conference on 11 July 2013 at the ministry’s conference room .This year’s theme is “Focus is on Adolescent Pregnancy”. In the conference, Health Minister Dr. AFM Ruhal Haque said that “Around 66 percent of Bangladeshi female adolescents are getting married before the age of 18, of which, 32.7 percent are becoming pregnant before reaching 19 years of age”. There is a higher chance of obstructed labour following adolescent pregnancy due to immature mother’s pelvis, stated Prof Ferdousi Islam, the DMCH head of the obstetrics and gynecology department. Assistant Prof Dr. Nasrin Akhtar of the same department also spoke in the press conference. A recently released statistics of United Nations Population Fund states that about 16 million under 18 adolescents give birth each year while another 3.2 million undergo unsafe abortions. It says a vast majority, 90 percent, of pregnant adolescents in the developing world are married but pregnancy, for far too many of these girls, has little to do with informed choice. It is very important to protect women’s fundamental rights and ensure their empowerment to prevent adolescent pregnancy, suggested the health minister at the press conference.
Again, the Director General of Family Planning (DGFP) observed the ‘World Population Day, through a program at Osmani Memorial Hall and Health Minister AFM Ruhal Haque attended the programmme. Everyone has to work together to reduce maternal and child mortality said Health Minister in the event. The apparent lack of coordination between the Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP) and the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) of the ministry might be slowing down implementation of family planning programmes, he added. Seven journalists from print and electronic media were conferred “Family Planning Media Award 2013” by the ministry at the programme for their investigative reporting on population and family planning.The ministry also recognised contributions of seven field level family planning workers and organisations.
‘Construction of infrastructures and strengthening activities of Bangladesh Institute of Research and Training on Applied Nutrition (BIRTAN)’ is a recent project approved by the The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC).
BIRTAN under the Ministry of Agriculture will implement the project at a cost of Tk 162 crore four years time from July 2013 to June 2017. The project will cover Araihazar upazila in Narayanganj district, Mymensingh sadar upazila, Noakhali sadar upazila, Sylhet sadar upazila, Sirajganj sadar upazila, Barisal sadar upazila, Jhenidah sadar upazila and Rangpur sadar upazila.
Planning Ministry official said the project has been undertaken for increasing the nutrition level of people through ensuring safe and sufficient balanced food in a bid to improve public health. For this, research and training activities on food nutrition would be strengthened and expanded under the project.
Nutrition value of 381 foods published
On 29th July 2013, publication of a report under a project titled “Food Composition Table of Bangladesh”, headed by Prof Nazma Shaheen of Institute of Nutrition and Food Science (INFS) of Dhaka University and nine international researchers was launched at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury senate building of DU. INFS by the joint supervision of Centre for Advanced Research in Sciences. The report stated the nutritional value of 381 foods, which are regularly consumed by the people of Bangladesh. The lists of the foods were classified into 15 groups and having 87 different components was revealed in the report. The researchers also classified 20 ‘key foods’ on the basis of their nutrient content. Speaking as the chief guest, Food Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque quoted that the report will be an essential tool for interventions in food security, nutrition and health.
Unified food safety authority on cards
The cabinet approved in principle the draft of the Food Safety Act, 2013 with a provision of up to 14 years’ imprisonment for food adulterators on 1st July .The draft law also sought to form a unified authority — Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) — to fight food adulteration and take care of other food-related concerns of consumers. It proposed forming as many food courts as deemed required to try the adulterators. Once passed by parliament, the law will replace the ages-old Pure Food Ordinance, 1959 and the current multi-pronged, multi-ministry controlled mechanisms of food safety issues, Food Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque told. The ordinance covered only eight food commodities, while the new proposed draft law includes over 200 food commodities, said an official of the Food Planning Monitoring Unit of the food ministry. The draft law got the government nod at the regular weekly cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. It proposed controlling the use of various toxic chemicals, formalin, DDT, etc., in food items and formation of BFSA to ensure quality of food from farm-to-fork, from production to packaging and distribution. As per the draft law, anyone found guilty of mixing life-threatening chemicals in food would be sentenced either to seven years’ imprisonment or fined Tk. 10 lakh or both. If anyone repeats the offence, the punishment will be doubled.
Budget for children next year: Muhith
The government will consider a child-focused budget from next fiscal year to ensure equitable rights of children and spur inclusive growth, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said on 28 July 2013. The minister spoke at the launch of a child-focused budgeting framework at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the city.The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) formulated the framework in partnership with the government and Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, a think tank.The framework is a product of collaborative efforts between the finance ministry, the women and children’s affairs ministry and nine other social sector ministries, UNICEF and PRI.The nine ministries and divisions include the local government division and the ministries of education, health and family welfare, home affairs, primary and mass education, religious affairs, social welfare, women and children affairs, and youth and sports. Finance Minister urged the UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, the International Labour Organisation and the World Bank to work on the issue.Pascal Villeneuve, the representative of UNICEF in Bangladesh, said child-focused budgeting is not a distinct budget for children.“This is why we are calling for the effective implementation of the framework in the area of social budgeting, by relevant officials, civil-society organisations, and all stakeholders,” the UN official said. During his presentation, Sadiq Ahmed, vice chairman of PRI, said child-focused budgeting is yet to be integrated explicitly into the country’s Medium Term Budgetary Framework, leaving an accountability loophole.