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Health and Nutrition

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Dr. Farzana Chowdhury consults with a patient in the Surjer Hashi clinic in Sunamganj in northern Bangladesh.
Dr. Farzana Chowdhury consults with a patient in the Surjer Hashi clinic in Sunamganj in northern Bangladesh. Supported by USAID, this clinic run by NGO Service Delivery Programme provides the families with high-quality, low-cost reproductive health, maternal and child healthcare services through 8,000 satellite clinics and 7,000 community health workers.
Habibul Haque for USAID

Over the past five decades, Bangladesh, with support from USAID, has reduced maternal and child mortality by two-thirds. Thanks to USAID’s flagship family planning programs, the average number of children a woman gives birth to has decreased from over six to about two. Although Bangladesh has had great success in reducing maternal and under-five mortality, declines have stalled in recent years. Despite notable improvements in nutritional status, almost one third of children remain stunted. Half of all births currently take place in health facilities, compared to 17 percent just a decade ago, but health facilities are not fully prepared to provide quality health services.  Around 62 percent of currently married couples use contraceptives to delay or limit childbearing. Yet, 12 percent of currently married women under age 50 say they would like to use contraceptives but do not have access to them.  While the age of marriage is slowly increasing, almost 60 percent of Bangladeshi women marry before the legal age of 18 and 28 percent begin childbearing before the legal age. The United Nations designated Bangladesh as one of 30 countries with the highest tuberculosis (TB) burden. Bangladesh accounts for 3.6 percent of the global burden of TB, and is one of USAID’s seven TB focus countries. The disease remains one of the top causes of death, and every year more than 360,000 people get TB and more than 36,000 die. 

USAID has a $120 million FY2021 health budget, including a $51 million COVID response and $69 million for a broad range of activities to improve maternal, neonatal, and child health; expand family planning and reproductive health; reduce malnutrition; reduce the burden of tuberculosis; prevent and control infectious disease outbreaks; and strengthen health systems to improve the affordability, equity, and quality of services across the country in the public and private sectors. Over the past 20 years, USAID has invested over $1 billion to improve health outcomes for Bangladeshis, and our assistance continues to support the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) health priorities under its $14 billion Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Program 2017-2023. 

Strengthening Health Systems

USAID works with the GOB and the private sector to comprehensively strengthen health systems so that they will be better able to deliver high-quality, equitable health services. This includes systems to manage human resources; continuously improve the quality of services; ensure health product availability; strengthen logistics and supply chain systems; address service shortages in underserved areas and among vulnerable populations; and improve health information systems.

Improving Maternal and Child Health

USAID partners with the GOB to improve systems to ensure access to quality services for mothers and children during the pregnancy, delivery and post-delivery periods, thereby reducing maternal and child mortality. For example, USAID trains community health workers and clinic staff, ensures necessary equipment and medicines are available at facilities, and supports establishment of sick newborn care. USAID also stimulates demand by encouraging pregnant women to attend antenatal checkups and give birth under the supervision of a skilled health worker.

COVID-19 Response

USAID is supporting every aspect of the GOB’s COVID-19 response. This includes in-depth support for vaccination; COVID-19 testing and laboratory strengthening; good-quality, safe treatment of COVID-19 patients; commodity logistics; commodity donations; risk communication and community education; door-to-door support to households in 55 districts; and other interventions.

Combating TB and Other Infectious Diseases

USAID supports the GOB in its efforts to reduce the burden of TB, including improved diagnosis and treatment of multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB). USAID also provides tailored support to identify and manage global health security issues by ensuring an appropriately trained workforce and strengthening GOB capacity to effectively detect, monitor and respond to infectious disease threats and antimicrobial resistance.

Improving Nutrition

USAID technical assistance supports planning, implementation and monitoring of the GOB’s $14 billion Health Sector Program, and our activities help strengthen supply chain systems to ensure child nutritional status has improved steadily over the past decade in Bangladesh. However, there is still work to do – only 35 percent of children receive the minimum acceptable diet and 44 percent of women of reproductive age are malnourished. USAID addresses these challenges by improving both community outreach and access to facility-based nutrition services and marketing of micronutrient supplements. USAID is also designing a new integrated, multi-sectoral nutrition strategy which will address the complex causes of malnutrition. The strategy and associated activities may include health, agriculture, livelihoods, climate change, water and sanitation, and other drivers of malnutrition.

Results

  • The U.S. government partnered closely with the GOB in the fight against COVID-19 and has donated more than 75 million doses, making the United States the largest donor of vaccines to Bangladesh. Bangladesh has received more donations from the United States than any other country.
  • USAID programs have trained over 51,000 healthcare and non-healthcare workers on how to properly and safely administer COVID-19 vaccines to support Bangladesh’s COVID-19 vaccination roll out across 64 districts. USAID has also donated 18 freezer vans, 750 freezer units, and 8,000 vaccine carriers and helped transport 57 million doses of vaccine to hard-to-reach areas.  
  • To help get shots in arms, USAID support established nearly 750 vaccination sites and directly provided 47 million vaccinations.  USAID also supported Bangladesh’s school vaccination campaign for 12-17 years old, which allowed schools to reopen after being closed for almost two years. 
  • Advanced technological solutions to detect deadly multi-drug resistant TB within two hours; digitize the national health information system to improve services; and establish an electronic logistics management information system to streamline the government’s procurement and distribution of life-saving drugs and family planning commodities.

Additional Resources

Last updated: October 31, 2022

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