Ministry Activities throughout January 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.



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