icddr,b initiates think tank in health sector of Bangladesh

Dhaka, 23 September 2017 -Today, icddr,b project Strengthening Health, Applying Research Evidence (SHARE)  has officially launched “Health Policy Dialogue (HPD)”- a think tank initiative to engage in policy demands and dialogue, and commissioning relevant research. The think tank is comprised of eminent scientists, academicians, development thinkers and civil society members with knowledge and expertise spanning public health, human rights and development issues. Aimed at creating a supportive policy environment and facilitating trust between the general public and health service providers, the think tank will work as a platform to bring together national health experts, policy makers and citizens. 

The Sustainable Development Goals require significant action on health which include ending  preventable maternal, neonatal, and child deaths, reducing premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases,  and the end  of epidemics of water-borne and communicable diseases, just to name a few. These are complex problems requiring holistic solutions. Strengthening the health sector through a dynamic network of people and organisations is a key step for making effective progress towards these and other health targets, thus the think tank can play a pivotal role in improving communication and  impact.

To mark the inauguration of Health Policy Dialogue, icddr,b’s SHARE Project organised a roundtable discussion titled ‘Achievements in the health sector and people’s expectations’ at CIRDAP Auditorium. Prof. T.A. Chowdhury, a legendary Gynaecologist and Obstetrician in Bangladesh and also the Chair of the think tank - Health Policy Dialogue presided over the discussion, where Prof. Robaet Ferdous from the University of Dhaka moderated the event. Mr. Md. Asadul Islam, Director General of Health Economics Unit and Ms. Catherine Spencer, Director Communications and Change Management at icddr,b attended as Special Guest.

In his welcome remarks, Prof. T.A. Chowdhury talked about the background of the think tank initiatives which has started undertaking policy analysis on emerging health issues and organising a series of dialogues for evidence-informed health policy process for improved health outcomes.

In the keynote presentation, Dr. Iqbal Anwar, Scientist and Project Director of the SHARE Project, explained the achievements in Bangladesh’s health sector in reducing maternal and neonatal mortality rate, population control and other maternal health indicators. He also emphasised inadequate budget allocation, shortage of human resources, inequity in health service delivery in hard-to-reach areas, prevalence of non-communicable diseases and high out of pocket expenditure of people as key challenges.

Representatives from different stakeholder groups including government, private sector, NGOs, development partners, professionals, teachers, students, journalists, mass media and citizens’ groups participated in this event and shared their expectations and suggestions for improving health services.

In the wrap-up session, Mr. Md. Asadul Islam presented recommendations resulting from the open discussion.

In his closing remarks, Prof. T.A. Chowdhury has reiterated that this newly formed think tank will continue having evidence based policy dialogues on emerging health issues.

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