About 2.5 million children in different parts of Dhaka, Narayanganj, and Chattogram will benefit from the project, the World Bank said.
The World Bank has approved $200 million as a loan to enhance Bangladesh’s primary healthcare services. This funding will be allocated towards improving the treatment, prevention of disease, and management of prevalent illnesses, including mosquito-borne diseases like dengue. Additionally, this assistance will encompass the effective management of medical waste in various regions, including the Dhaka North and South City Corporations, as well as the Chattogram City Corporation.
According to a statement released by the World Bank on Thursday, the main goal of the Urban Health, Nutrition, and Population Project is to establish a network of primary health centers. These centers will offer a wide range of health, nutrition, and population-related services. Furthermore, the project aims to create a direct referral system that connects these primary centers with secondary and tertiary-level healthcare facilities.
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The statement indicates that these services will benefit around 2.5 million children living within the jurisdictions of the two Dhaka city corporations.
The funding originates from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank, which provides concessional financing. This financial support comes with a repayment term of 30 years, including a grace period of five years.
Initiative Targets Enhanced Prenatal Care
The initiative aims to enhance prenatal services for women, with the goal of providing at least four checkups during pregnancy to over 250,000 women. Additionally, it will facilitate the screening and subsequent monitoring of hypertension for approximately 1.3 million adults. To alleviate the financial burden of healthcare costs on economically disadvantaged individuals, the project will revamp specific existing public health establishments. These will include government outdoor dispensaries and family planning clinics.
Project Targets Healthier Lifestyles and Disease Preparedness in Urban Areas
The project will additionally center on environmental well-being and preemptive measures such as mosquito control, management of medical waste, and communication for behavior change. These endeavors are aimed at fostering healthier lifestyles to avert illnesses and curtail the impacts of climate change and air pollution on human health. Furthermore, the project will endorse the creation and execution of a cross-sectoral strategy for handling infectious disease outbreaks in urban areas and local communities. In order to combat dengue, the initiative will introduce an early warning system based on climate conditions and bolster outbreak response capabilities. Additionally, steps will be taken to eliminate breeding sites for mosquitoes.
WB director notes rural healthcare progress
Abdoulaye Seck, the World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, remarked that Bangladesh has demonstrated impressive advancements in enhancing healthcare, especially in rural regions. “However, urban areas confront a scarcity of accessible public healthcare services. Consequently, individuals of modest means and residents of slums frequently find themselves resorting to costlier private healthcare options. Moreover, the combination of dense population, climate change, and rapid urban expansion has led to the emergence of new health challenges. These challenges encompass a rise in dengue cases as well as the prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases,” he observed.
Climate Change’s Impact on Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Highlighting the issue, Iffat Mahmud, Senior Operations Officer at the World Bank and Task Team Leader for the Project, emphasized that the significance of climate change’s effect on diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, including infectious diseases, is frequently underestimated. She pointed out that the heavy dependence on methods like fogging or adult mosquito-targeted spraying, along with less precise larval control, ends up being an ineffective utilization of available resources.
Mahmud stressed the influence of climatic conditions on the mosquito lifecycle, indicating that the project’s key objective will involve reinforcing the capabilities of the mosquito control laboratory. This initiative encompasses enhancing the capacity to implement inventive techniques for mosquito control and introducing other interventions centered around the community. This direction was articulated by the representative of the World Bank.
Bangladesh grapples with dengue epidemic
Bangladesh is currently facing an unprecedented and highly lethal surge in dengue fever cases. The nation’s hospitals are finding it challenging to accommodate patients as the disease rapidly spreads within the densely populated country.
The dengue outbreak in Bangladesh has taken a concerning turn, displaying a rise in both cases and fatalities this year. As of July 18, 2023, the nation has reported a staggering 127 fatalities, which is five times greater than the previous year’s count. On the same date, an unprecedented 1,533 patients were admitted to hospitals, contributing to a total of 24,000 admissions. The current dengue outbreak has impacted 60 districts across Bangladesh. Analyzing the data on dengue incidence from 2022 to 2023 across all eight divisions, it’s apparent that the highest incidence has been observed in Chattogram, Dhaka, and Barisal.
From January 1 to August 7, 2023, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare of Bangladesh confirmed a total of 69,483 cases of dengue through laboratory tests, resulting in 327 related deaths. The case fatality rate (CFR) stands at 0.47%. Notably, a significant proportion of cases (63%) and deaths (62%) were reported in the month of July 2023. While dengue is commonly found in Bangladesh, the current surge stands out due to its unusual seasonality and early steep rise compared to previous years when surges typically started around late June. The CFR for this year, considering the period so far, is relatively high compared to the rates observed in previous years for the entire year. (World Health Organization, August 11, 2023)