Sheikh Hasina Initiative a global role model in community health

Hiren Pandit: Sheikh Hasina Initiative is a global role model in community healthcare today. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the United Nations that community-based primary health care is the key to achieving universal health care. She called on development partners to support the efforts of developing countries to bring healthcare to all.

“We call on our development partners, including multilateral funding agencies, to extend their helping hand to community-clinic health services in the developing world,” She said on the sidelines of the UNGA’s 78th session at the UN headquarters in New York, titled ‘Sheikh Hasina Initiative of Community Clinics: Innovative Approaches Achieving Universal. She made the call in the plenary session of the high-level side-event titled ‘Health Coverage Inclusive of Mental Health and Disability’. The Prime Minister said, ‘We are encouraged by your presence this year as we take oath to accelerate our collective work on sustainable development and universal health.”

Sheikh Hasina added that as the emerging voice of the Gabal South, Bangladesh will champion the issue as a potential avenue for meaningful international partnership. She said, ‘From our side, Bangladesh is ready to exchange knowledge and expertise with interested parties. Health is the root of all happiness. We want to spread joy all around through community clinics.” The Prime Minister said she was deeply grateful to the ministers and experts who expressed their feelings and pledged their support at this time. She added, “We hope that this side event will be another sign of our shared commitment to the health and well-being of all our people and communities.”

Community clinics and mental health centers for community-based healthcare are among the Prime Minister’s Ten Extraordinary Initiatives. It has been recognized by the United Nations as a unique common model and initiative for healthcare around the world. The historic resolution raised at the United Nations under the title of ‘Community-based Primary Health Care a Participatory and Inclusive Approach to Achieving Universal Health Services’ has given international recognition to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s outstanding innovative leadership in establishing a community clinic-based model of primary health care in Bangladesh in a public-private partnership.

In the resolution proposed by Bangladesh, the member states of the United Nations referred to this initiative as ‘The Sheikh Hasina Initiative’ in recognition of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s successful innovative initiative in establishing community clinics.

Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, USA has once again honored ‘The Sheikh Hasina Initiative’. Mukesh K. Jain de Lotte, senior vice president for health affairs at Brown University and dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, called the initiative an unforgettable milestone in the global effort to achieve universal health care by 2030. They further said it is a successful model of community-based primary health care. It is a participatory and inclusive approach to universal health coverage through primary health care, women empowerment, and community involvement development.

More than 14,500 community clinics have been set up across the country through the single-minded efforts of the Prime Minister, which has brought unprecedented changes in the health system of rural communities. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched this unique community clinic-based health system in Bangladesh in 1998 with the aim of bringing all the people of Bangladesh under primary health care, which has revolutionized the provision of primary health care benefits by the government at the doorsteps of the grassroots people across the country. The path shown by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the inspiration for this revolutionary effort of the Prime Minister.

After independence, Bangabandhu’s government started working to provide health care to every union. Thana Health Complex was established as a step towards the decentralization of healthcare activities with the aim of providing primary healthcare at the grassroots level. Through this, efforts are being made to deliver healthcare at the grassroots level step by step. In 1996, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Gimadanga Community Clinic in the Patgati Union of Tungipara Upazila of Gopalganj on April 26, 2000. However, when the four-party coalition government came to power in 2001, these community clinics were closed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In 2009, the Awami League government under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina resumed the work of the community clinic project. The community-based healthcare model is internationally recognized as an initiative to ensure universal healthcare.

The clinics were rehabilitated, recruited new health workers and provided medicines under the project called ‘Revitalization of Community Healthcare Initiatives in Bangladesh’. Community clinics are the lowest level of government healthcare structures. Community clinics are established as one-stop service centers to meet the needs of common people at the grassroots level. Community clinics providing prenatal (including neonatal care) services to pregnant women under Universal Reproductive Health Care include timely vaccination against diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, whooping cough, measles, hepatitis B, pneumonia, malaria, leprosy etc. In addition, it provides preventive measures for fever, diarrhea and other non-communicable diseases and their limited treatment facilities. Apart from this, symptomatic first aid is also provided for fever, pain, cuts, burns, headaches, skin diseases, creams and common diseases of eyes, teeth and ears. Health, family planning and nutrition services are provided from here. People get 31 types of medicines free of charge from here.

There are registered graduate doctors, community health care providers (CHCPs), trained health workers, internet services, e-health, telemedicine and other ancillary support. Clinics are run by community health care providers. Priority has been given to local women workers in this post.

Community-based health care center is working as one of the accessories for the implementation of another special initiative of Prime Minister Amar Gram Amar Sehar’. Community clinics have gained popularity among rural people and become family hospitals due to easy, free, reliable services close to home. The initiatives taken by the government around health care have brightened the image of Bangladesh in the international world. Bangladesh’s government has been widely praised all over the world for providing free coronavirus vaccination for people from all walks of life in the time of the coronavirus epidemic.

The Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization awarded the Prime Minister as a ‘Vaccine Hero’. In the study of the UK-based medical and public health journal Lancet, the position of Bangladesh in terms of access and quality of healthcare in the world is above India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan among the SAARC countries. The Director General of the World Health Organization met the Prime Minister and praised the government’s initiatives in the health sector.

He said, there has been a revolutionary change in the health sector of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is achieving significant success in increasing the average life expectancy of people, reducing maternal mortality and reducing infant mortality to zero. The Director General of the World Health Organization also said, “The Sheikh Hasina Initiative” will serve as an ideal model for expanding the quality of healthcare in all developing countries.

Bangladesh was once at the bottom of almost all indicators in the health sector. That country now stands tall. India, Pakistan, Nepal and many other countries have topped in healthcare. This progress in Bangladesh’s health sector has become a wonder to the whole world.

‘The Sheikh Hasina Initiative’ is now an ideal ‘Blueprint’ for developing the health sector for developing countries. Community clinics are playing a major role in improving overall healthcare in the country. The government of Bangladesh is taking various necessary initiatives to further modernize these services in the future. In this, the opportunity for common people to get health care is increasing. Ensuring the fundamental right of every human being to health care.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s outstanding innovation ‘Community Clinic’ has been recognized by the United Nations as ‘The Sheikh Hasina Initiative’. It mentioned that Bangladesh has been recognized as an exemplary country in the international community in primary health care. Through this resolution, Bangladesh has been recognized as an exemplary country in the international community in primary health care. It is a matter of pride for all of Bangladesh.”

Improvements in health care, increase in life expectancy or new innovations in health care all started with community clinics. Health services of community clinics include- primary health care, pregnant and postpartum health, newborn and child health, family planning services, nutrition services, and conducting EPI programs.

The community clinic has gained recognition as an excellent institution for the treatment of all communicable and non-communicable diseases. “This community clinic is a big milestone in Bangladesh where we say health services will be ensured for all by 2030.”

In the resolution proposed by Bangladesh, the member states of the United Nations referred to this initiative as ‘The Sheikh Hasina Initiative’, giving widespread recognition to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s successful innovative initiative in establishing community clinics. It reflects Bangladesh’s strong commitment to improving public healthcare and bringing equity to global healthcare.

The resolution has far-reaching implications for promoting universal health services and international cooperation to achieve the United Nations Development Goals. Because it invites international financial institutions, multilateral and regional development banks and donors to provide appropriate technical and financial support for the introduction and implementation of this community clinic-based model health system in member countries, especially in developing countries.

The writer is a, columnist and researcher

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