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Urban Primary Healthcare in Bangladesh to Improve with ADB Aid

Twelve comprehensive reproductive health care centers and 26 primary health care centers will be built near slums and other densely populated areas of Bangladesh as part of an $81 million project to improve urban primary health care financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“Poor living conditions leave the urban poor, especially women and children, more exposed to health problems than the general population,” said M. Teresa Kho, Country Director of the Bangladesh Resident Mission. “With this project, we hope to strengthen maternal and child health, nutrition, and family planning – all factors that are critical to reducing urban poverty.”

In 2008, the mortality rate for children under five in Bangladesh’s urban slums was 91 per 1,000 live births, compared with 77 per 1,000 live births in rural areas. In 2011, children from the poorest families were four times more likely to be malnourished than children from the wealthiest families. A 2007 study found that among the urban poor, 70% of women gave birth at home accompanied by untrained traditional birth attendants, exposing them to higher risks of complications.

Through the project, public-private partnerships will expand primary healthcare targeted at the poor living in cities and some municipalities. The project will also help the government make greater use of information technology to improve service, training, and management. Computerized health management information systems will help primary healthcare providers manage and share information, improve referral links, and incorporate e-learning into training.

The project will also help local governments strengthen their policies on urban health issues, and develop guidelines for managing private-public partnership healthcare contracts.

At least 30% of all services, including drugs, will be given free to the poor, with women targeted for the free services. The project will also include weekly mobile outreach services for the homeless and the extremely poor.

ADB will finance $50 million in project costs, with the Government of Sweden providing $20 million and the remaining $11 million coming from the Government of Bangladesh. This project builds and expands on a previous $91 million ADB-led project to boost urban primary healthcare in Bangladesh which will wrap up at the end of this year.

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