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Field sites

Our field sites provide a platform for high-quality population-based research in both urban and rural areas.

One of our major strengths is an extensive range of field sites across Bangladesh. These field sites support a wide range of surveillance activities, and provide platforms for multiple intervention studies and health systems research.


Matlab is the longest running demographic surveillance site in the global South. It is widely used as an example of how demographic and health surveillance sites should be run, and has had great impact on national and international health policy.

Matlab is located about 50 km south of Dhaka and its community structure is typical of rural Bangladesh. Demographic surveillance began at Matlab in 1966 and more than 8 million person-years of epidemiological data have been collected to date.

Demographic and health data are regularly collected from more than 200,0000 people living in 142 villages. As well as a site of data collection, Matlab provides a key location for testing community-based and health facility-based interventions. In particular, as icddr,b is responsible for health services at half the facilities in Matlab, the impact of interventions can be compared with results from facilities not run by icddr,b.

Urban field sites

We also run two urban field sites in Dhaka, at Kamalapur and Mirpur. These sites have been used to generate important data on the health of the urban poor and to test interventions to improve access to health services. Understanding urban health is crucial as increasing numbers of Bangladeshi citizens live in cities.

Mirpur has been used for smaller but more intensive studies of cohorts of children. Studies have focused on the epidemiology and pathology of various infectious diseases, as well as vaccine studies and other community-based interventions.

Kamalapur is a densely populated area of informal settlements with a population of 140,000. The site has been used for studies on pneumonia, shigellosis, influenza and dengue. It has also provided the basis for studies on urban health systems, including how best to provide health services, set up referral systems, and finance health programmes.

Other sites

We also manage an extensive network of research sites across Bangladesh. These sites support our wide-ranging surveillance, population-based and health systems research. Each site has its own unique characteristics, enabling our researchers to base their studies in locations that best meet their research needs.