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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today (Friday, February 15) laid importance on more engagement of the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure universal health services for all.


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“As a global leader, the WHO needs to be engaged more effectively with nations to achieve the health-related sustainable development goals (SDGs),” she said.

The prime minister was addressing a roundtable on ’Health in Crises – WHO Cares’ at the 55th Edition of Munich Security Conference.

The premier arrived here on Thursday in the first leg of her maiden overseas tour in two countries – Germany and the UAE — after assuming office for the fourth term last month. Sheikh Hasina said her government has taken a plan to expand the universal health coverage manifold and make health services free for children under one year and elders over 65 years.

The prime minister called for an effective, results-oriented international coordination and cooperation for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal-3 and other health-related goals.

“Emergence of contagious diseases like Ebola, cholera and tuberculosis globally reveals that the existing health system needs to be upgraded and transformed,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina also underlined the importance of predictable and urgent financing for the health security initiatives in the developing countries and LDCs. “Often WHO had been caught wrong-footed due to the enormity of the crisis, dearth of resources and its capacity. But, WHO, as our principal humanitarian organization, rightfully deserves high-level political support from governments to guarantee health and happiness for all,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said health service is one of the basic needs of human beings and so it requires our highest priority. “It is unfortunate that we are failing to ensure appropriate health care for our people while right to health is the fundamental promise as described in SDG-3,” she said.

The prime minister highlighted the steps taken by her government in health sector, saying consistent policies are being taken and financial support is being provided for the development of health security in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has made a remarkable improvement in health sector side by side with socioeconomic development, she said, adding: “Our efforts have made us a role model of ’good health at low cost’.”

Mentioning Bangladesh’s success in the health sector, the prime minister said maternal mortality has reduced to 172 per 100,000 births, infant mortality to 24 per 1000 births and under-5 mortality to 31 per 1000 births. Country’s vaccination coverage is now 82.3% and life expectancy is more than 72.8 years, she said, adding that Bangladesh has made commendable success in elimination of tuberculosis and leprosy.

Sheikh Hasina said the MDR-TB shorter treatment regimen research was conducted in Bangladesh and famously known as “Bangladesh Regimen”.

“The treatment regimen has significantly reduced the MDR-TB treatment duration from 20 months to 9 months with a better treatment success. The whole world is now moving towards shorter MDR-TB regimen,” she added.

The prime minister said Bangladesh’s success in the use of information and communication technology for health services is also recognized worldwide. Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh in its development planning for last three decades has been giving utmost priority to make public health services available and accessible to all its citizens.

Under the plan, Health for All (HFA), Primary Health Care (PHC), Essential Service Package (ESP), etc were undertaken, she said. The premier said more than 18,500 Community Clinics and Union Health and Family Welfare Centres at rural and community level are providing healthcare services to the grassroots people which include distribution of some 30 types of medicine free of cost.

Sheikh Hasina said her government is working for further expanding the medicine and health coverage through establishing new medical colleges across the country, at least one medical college in every district. She said her government has already integrated the health-related SDG targets into the development programs.

“Our ’Vision 2021’ and ’Vision 2041’ have given top priority to ensure health security in Bangladesh,” she added. The prime minister said global health is multidimensional, spreading over boundaries and requires sustained high-level commitment and closer international cooperation.

“We need to work collectively as advanced technology and innovation have provided us with opportunities to work on health security particularly for the vulnerable sections of our society,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina deeply appreciated WHO for being with Bangladesh in its difficult journey, especially in achieving the MDGs, reducing child and maternal mortality as well as supporting in various vaccination programmes and combating HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis and other water-borne diseases over the years.

She also commended the WHO’s emergency activities for displaced Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh and other parts of the world including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Libya.

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