BUHN 5th Virtual Seminar Insights: Advancing Urban Health and WASH Initiatives

BUHN 5th Virtual Seminar Insights: Advancing Urban Health and WASH Initiatives

The 5th Bi-weekly Knowledge Sharing Virtual Seminar Session on Urban Health and Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH), organized by the Bangladesh Urban Health Network (BUHN), convened on April 4, 2024, from 11:30 AM to 01:00 PM (BST) via the Zoom platform, honoring Dr. Malay Choudhury, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture as the Chief Guest, Dr. Dibalok Singha, Executive Director, Dushtha Shasthya Kendra (DSK) and Dr. Md. Tajuddin Sikder, Professor & Former chairman, Department of Public Health & Informatics, Jahangirnagar University, as the panelist. Md. Azmal Hossain, the UNFPA Program Analyst for Urban Health, and Partha Hefaz Shaikh, Director- Programmes and Policy Advocacy, WaterAid Bangladesh, gave presentation on "“Ma Jaan: solving referral challenges for urban poor to access emergency obstetric and newborn care in Bangladesh”" and " Health and Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH)" respectively.  The seminar opened with Dr. Dewan Md. Emdadul Hoque, Health Manager at UNICEF, extending a warm welcome to the participants and underscoring the pivotal role of urban health in realizing SDG targets in Bangladesh.

Following this, in the 1st presentation of Md. Azmal Hossain, the UNFPA Program Analyst for Urban Health, delved into the intricacies of solving referral challenges for urban poor communities to access emergency obstetric and newborn care in Bangladesh. His presentation shed light on various aspects, including innovation, policy testing, and the crucial role of technology, notably the "Ma Jaan" app, in facilitating emergency referrals and ensuring quality care during childbirth. Subsequently, in the 2nd presentation, Partha Hefaz Shaikh, Director of Programmes and Policy Advocacy at WaterAid Bangladesh, emphasized the imperative of universal access to safe wash facilities and advocated for enhanced WASH service delivery capacity through technological applications.

This discussion set the stage for a robust panel discussion led by Dr. Dibalok Singha, Executive Director of Dushtha Shasthya Kendra (DSK), who addressed challenges in inclusive sanitation and public health services, stressing the need for increased budget allocation and strengthened community-level public health systems. The discussion further unfolded with Dr. Md. Tajuddin Sikder, Professor & Former Chairman of the Department of Public Health & Informatics at Jahangirnagar University, provided insights into enhancing urban healthcare accessibility, advocating for the integration of artificial intelligence and decentralized waste management strategies.

The seminar culminated in an open discussion and Q&A session led by A.F.M Alauddin Khan, Project Director of UPHCSDP-II, highlighting the critical importance of prioritizing primary healthcare for vulnerable urban populations and fostering collaboration between governmental and non-governmental entities to achieve SDGs by 2030.

The speech by the Chief Guest Dr. Malay Choudhury, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, discussing the roles of development partners, emphasizing the significance of urban primary healthcare and water supply, sanitation & waste management, and exploring opportunities for government-stakeholders coordination.

As the seminar concluded, Dr. Shahin Akter, Technical Operation Director at Eminence, expressed gratitude and underscored the urgent need for budget allocation to support urban slum development, advocating for enhanced WASH facilities, affordable transport for referrals, accessible water supply, cost-effective waste management, and coordinated efforts among local governments and institutions for sustainable urban health outcomes.