Bi-weekly knowledge Sharing Virtual Seminar Session Urban Health and Upcoming 9th Five Years Plan in Bangladesh

Bi-weekly knowledge Sharing Virtual Seminar Session  Urban Health and Upcoming 9th Five Years Plan in Bangladesh

The 1st Bi-weekly Knowledge Sharing Virtual Seminar of the Bangladesh Urban Health Network's (BUHN) on Urban Health and the upcoming 9th Five Year Plan in Bangladesh took place on January 16, 2024. The program was designed with presentations and panel discussions, honoring Mr. Md. Mamunur Rashid, Joint Secretary, MoHFW as the Chief Guest, Dr. Abu Jamil Faisel, Chairman and Treasurer, Health 21 and Dr. Mohammad Zahirul Islam, Senior Program Officer, SIDA as the panelist. Dr. Mohammad Sabbir Haider, Senior Scientific Officer (Epidemiology), IEDCR and Dr. Md. Saidur Rahman, Team Leader at Aalo Clinics gave presentation on “Urban Health in the Upcoming 5-Years Sector Plan” and “Present Urban Health Scenario, Best Practices and Challenges in Bangladesh” respectively. The program was moderated by Dr. Shamim Hayder Talukder, CEO of Eminence and Member Secretary of BUHN.

Dr. Mohammad Sabbir Haider, in his presentation highlighted the current scenario of fast growing urban population, deprivation of urban poor, discrimination in public health facilities, high prevalence of NCDs in urban areas, private sector service dominance, drug stores as the first point of care, lack of referral system, and absence of comprehensive data as challenges for urban health. He described that upcoming 5-year sector plan giving importance of planning citizen mapping and catchment area definition, digital mapping of facilities with service information and multi-sectoral coordination for tackling the challenges of the urban health. He added that improving outdoor services of the existing government hospitals in urban areas (to be included in HSM OP), strengthening government outdoor dispensaries (GODs) and setting up new urban primary health care centers (UPHC) are the three proposed activities on Urban Primary Health Care in 5th HPNSP.

Subsequently, Dr. Md. Saidur Rahman, in his presentation introduced the existing health service providers in urban areas such as GO-operated GODs, UPHCSDP, BRAC’s MANOSHI project, Model Urban PHC Clinics (Aalo Clinics) project by SIDA, UNICEF-piloting implemented by PHD led consortium etc. He highlighted the Aalo Clinics projects as one of the comprehensive urban PHC model providing health services to the patients in two shifts including lab services, operated by full digitalization (IDHP) system with telephonic appointment of the patients. He also mentioned about providing outreach services (9 am to 3 pm) with stickered mobile vans and tents with 2 female paramedics, and addressed challenges, including a lack of coordination between ministries, rapid urbanization, climate effects, and financial barriers. Concerns were raised about the absence of visible stewardship for urban primary healthcare and coordination issues in managing healthcare organizations in urban areas.


In the panel discussion Dr. Abu Jamil Faisel highlighted coordination challenges within the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, particularly between the Directorate General of Family Planning and the Directorate General of Health. He stressed the need for reforms and coordination within the Ministry and tailored urban health programs for different cities. Dr. Zahirul Islam discussed challenges and strategies for primary healthcare in urban areas, emphasizing coordination with various organizations and the importance of human resources. The subsequent open discussion and Q&A session involved experts such as Dr. Shehlina Ahmed, Consultant, Unicef, Md. Ashadul Islam, Former Secretary, MoHFW, VFF Mohammad Abdullah, Consultant, Unicef, Dr. Farzana Taher Munmun, DPM, DGHS, Dr. Mohammad Sabbir Haider, Senior Scientific Officer (Epidemiology), IEDCR, Dr. Farhana Rahman, BRAC, Dr. Md. Saidur Rahman, Team Leader at Aalo Clinics, and Dr. Syed Kamrul Islam, Deputy Director, DGHS. They highlighted issues ranging from enhancing awareness and coordination to sustainability plans, referral system strengthening, and comprehensive discussions on urban health.

The Chief Guest, Mr. Md. Mamunur Rashid, Joint Secretary, MoHFW, in his speech expressed the importance of addressing coordination gaps in the health sector. While acknowledging health sector successes, he proposed a comprehensive paper on urban health issues for inclusion in the 5th health sector plan and suggested presenting the paper to the honorable minister for consideration and action.

Recommendations included hoping to finalize the full operational plan for the urban health initiative, addressing coordination issues between ministries, considering the implementation of Aalo clinic's digital model, reorganizing outpatient departments for primary healthcare to the urban poor, taking active steps to address NCDs and mental health issues, organizing a future meeting for comprehensive urban health discussions, revitalizing the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee, making a note for the honorable Minister with insights and recommendations, and participating in future virtual discussion sessions organized by BUHN.

The seminar concluded with closing remarks by Dr. Margub Aref Jahangir, Technical Support Team Member of BUHN, expressing gratitude to participants and proposing the revival of the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee. The seminar provided a robust platform for collaborative discussions, emphasizing the critical need for coordinated efforts in addressing urban health challenges in Bangladesh