We are an international health research institute based in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Our research is addressing some of the world’s most pressing health challenges.
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Matlab is our major rural field site and a global public health resource. Research carried out at Matlab has had a profound impact on policy and practice nationally and internationally.
At Matlab, a rural area of Bangladesh some 50 km south of Dhaka, we maintain one of the developing world’s richest, most comprehensive and longest-running longitudinal data resources. Detailed and high-quality demographic and health data representative of rural Bangladesh are collected from Matlab residents on a regular basis. Some 50 years of continuous demographic information has been collected on a population of more than 200,000 people.
Our work at Matlab has generated a wealth of data on the health and health-seeking behaviour of the local population and the factors that affect them. It has also provided a test bed in which interventions can be evaluated, generating evidence that has influenced healthcare policy and practice in Bangladesh and internationally.
Structured interviews are conducted to register birth, death, marriage, divorce, migration, internal movement and household break-ups every two months in all households in Matlab’s 142 villages. Periodic socioeconomic surveys also collect information on occupation and household assets.
This data set comprises health, demographic and social characteristics, at the individual and household level. These data can be linked a wide range of research and clinical information. This array of interrelated information is invaluable in a country that has no nationwide registration systems and scant resources to develop health information systems and monitor trends in the nation’s health.
Matlab’s observational data provide insight into changing patterns of disease, their links to social and environmental factors, and healthcare-seeking behaviour. Matlab also provides a platform on which interventions can be evaluated in a natural setting and on a significant scale. Findings from Matlab studies have helped to improve the health of the local population, but have also provided evidence to support wider implementation of interventions across Bangladesh.
Research at Matlab has demonstrated the effectiveness of numerous interventions, generating evidence to shape policy and practice in Bangladesh and globally.