WHO to continue help Bangladesh combat three major diseases

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DHAKA : The World Health Organization (WHO) today assured of continuing its assistance in Bangladesh to eliminate three major diseases — HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria — from the country.

The assurance came when WHO Regional Director for Southeast Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official Ganabhaban residence here this morning.

After the meeting, PM’s Deputy Press Secretary Md Nazrul Islam briefed reporters.

He said the WHO regional director highly praised Bangladesh’s health
sector development, particularly establishment of community clinics, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“Setting up of community clinics in Bangladesh for the grassroots people is a very fruitful programme, and wherever I go, I highlight the programme as an example,” she said.

Dr Poonam also said the World Health Organization is encouraging other countries to replicate this programme to reach healthcare services at the people’s doorsteps.

The WHO regional director apprised the prime minister of the preparation for the International Conference on Autism and Neurodevelopment Disorder to be held in Bhutan next month.

Bangladesh, Bhutan and the WHO are jointly organising the three-day
conference in Bhutan from April 19-21.

Dr Poonam also informed the premier that the WHO will arrange an
international conference on autism in Dhaka this year or next year to create awareness about autism.

She highly lauded Saima Wazed Hossain, the chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh and daughter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, for her role in autism issue.

“The WHO has included autism in its programme because of Saima Wazed,” she said.

The prime minister said her government has been working tirelessly to ensure basic needs of the people including food, healthcare, education, clothes and housing.

About her initiatives for setting up community clinics in the country, Sheikh Hasina said she learnt from Bangabandhu on how to ensure healthcare for the people and gather huge experience in it by visiting across the country.

“After assuming office in 1996, we applied all the experiences for the development of the health sector and set up community clinics and union health care centres across the country to reach medicare services at the doorsteps of the common people,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina regretted that the BNP-Jamaat government after coming to power in 2001 closed down the community clinics out of political vengeance and deprived the masses of getting healthcare services.

The premier said her government, after assuming office again in 2009, re-opened the community clinics, and currently people are receiving healthcare services from 18, 337 such clinics and union health centres.

Referring to the government’s initiatives for establishing more medical universities in the country, she said work is underway to set up such a university in Chittagong and Rajshahi for higher education of physicians.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has raised the number of beds at upazila and district hospitals to ensure healthcare services for the people.

“We have introduced tele-medicine and mobile healthcare services for ensuring better treatment for rural people,” she said. Saima Wazed Hossain was also present on the occasion.

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