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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Building awareness for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Bangladesh: pushing the agenda forward in 2016

 Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means every person, everywhere, has access to quality health care without suffering financial hardship.’  UHC has the potential to reduce the income-erosion effect of illness (high out-of-pocket expenditure, ‘catastrophic health expenditure’ ) and the risk of impoverishment for millions of people living in low and middle-income countries including Bangladesh. In recent times, Bangladesh has done remarkably well to improve the overall population health outcomes, which has been recognized globally. However, there is no scope for complacence as there still remain problems of taking health services to the door steps of people in the hard-to-reach areas, inclusion of vulnerable (women, children and ultra-poor) and hitherto left-out groups such as the LGBT population; adolescents, elderly and migrant population; and health system strengthening to ensure equity, quality and responsiveness.  

UHC as a concept and a strategy for designing future health sector program is gaining momentum in Bangladesh, especially in the context of Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the global community in 2015. It can safely be said that Bangladesh has taken the first steps towards advancing the UHC agenda beyond 2015. Some key initiatives such as Health Care Financing Strategy 2012-2032, National Social Security Strategy 2015,  and Communication Strategy for UHC 2014-2016 are testimony towards this commitment.

The non-government organizations (NGO), civil society organizations (CSO), and development partners have played an important role in initiating the discussion on UHC in Bangladesh since 2011-‘12. Experiences gained so far show that different stakeholders have different understanding of UHC including its meaning and scope, dimensions and priority setting processes. For mobilizing and consolidating stakeholder efforts in both the public and private sectors for UHC in Bangladesh, it is essential to come to a common understanding and broad consensus on the core concepts of UHC including its breadth (population and services to embrace) and depth (means and extent of financial protection).

Thus the general objective of the “Building awareness for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Bangladesh: pushing the agenda forward in 2016”programme is to build awareness on the core concepts of UHC including its scope and contents among different levels of stakeholders in the health, nutrition and population sector. The activities are expected to develop a ‘critical mass’ at the policy and practitioner level in the public and non-state sectors who can take an active role in making UHC a priority in GoB’s health policies and programs. The programme is funded by HFG Project of USAID and implemented by the James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University in partnership with the Health Economics Unit (HEU) of MOHFW and will leverage HEU’s already planned UHC communication strategy. To avoid duplication and build ownership and buy-in, this activity will also coordinate with other stakeholders such as WHO, GIZ, and the World Bank.

The objectives will be accomplished through the implementation of various communication and advocacy activities. These include a series of,
i)             half-day orientation sessions for the senior government officials, executives from professional bodies in the health and allied sectors, and members of the parliamentary standing committee on health
ii)           one day sessions for the mid-level government officials, academicians and researchers
iii)         short courses (3 to 5 days) for members from  professional bodies in the health and allied sectors, faculty of Community Medicine/Public Health from public and private medical colleges/Universities, and field level programme implementers in the GO and NGO sectors
Topics to be covered would include core concepts of UHC including its scope, necessity and preparedness for Bangladesh, role of organizations and individuals (half-day sessions); health care financing, provider-payment mechanisms, benefit package, quality of care (additional for one-day sessions); and more in-depth treatment of these issues plus health system building blocks, World Bank’s UHC flagship course framework, quality, equity and health system responsiveness using examples from other country case studies in case of short courses. Contents will be developed with the help of relevant experts and customized to the need of different target audiences. A pool of facilitators from within JPGSPH/BRAC University and outside will be mobilized to conduct different sessions.
Additional awareness-building and advocacy activities would include policy dialogues, TV Talk shows/debates, popular theatres, road shows etc. Various print and audio-visual communication materials will be developed for advocacy during the programme period. The project will be implemented in two phases and the Phase I will cover the period April – October 2016. A detailed plan will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the first phase. Phase II (November 2016 – October 2017) will build on the experiences gained from the first phase.
The programme will be formally launched with a session for the senior government officials during the second half of August in the presence of the Secretary for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Bangladesh.
For further information, pl contact:
Prof. Syed Masud Ahmed,
Director, Centre of Excellence for Universal Health coverage, JPGSPH, BRAC University
e-mail: ahmed.sm@bracu.ac.bd; Tel: 880-2-9827501-4, Ext. 6020


Dr. Shahnur Begum said...

Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah,

Thanks for such a enrich blog. I found it useful.

Best regards

Dr Shahnur Begum

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