Publications by authors named "Syed Masud Ahmed"

54 Publications

A Policy Analysis Regarding Education, Career, and Governance of the Nurses in Bangladesh: A Qualitative Exploration.

Policy Polit Nurs Pract 2021 May 18;22(2):114-125. Epub 2021 Jan 18.

Centre of Excellence for Health Systems and Universal Health Coverage, BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Nurses, short in production and inequitable in the distribution in Bangladesh, require the government's efforts to increase enrolment in nursing education and a smooth career progression. Given the importance of an assessment of the current nursing scenario to inform the decision makers and practitioners to implement the new policies successfully, we analyzed relevant policies on education, career, and governance of nurses in Bangladesh. We used documents review and qualitative methods such as key informant interviews ( = 13) and stakeholder analysis. We found that nursing education faced several backlashes: resistance from diploma nurses while attempting to establish a graduate (bachelor) course in 1977, and the reluctance of politicians and entrepreneurs to establish nursing institutions. Many challenges with the implementation of nursing policies are attributable to social, cultural, religious, and historical factors. For example, Hindus considered touching the bodily excretions as the task of the lower castes, while Muslims considered women touching the body of the men immoral. Nurses also face governance challenges linked with their performance and reward. For example, nurses have little voice over the decisions related to their profession, and they are not allowed to perform clinical duties unsupervised. To improve the situation, the government has made new policies, including upliftment of nurses' position in public service, the creation of an independent Directorate General, and improvement of nursing education and service. New policies often come with new apprehensions. Therefore, nurses should be included in the policy processes, and their capacity should be developed in nursing leadership and health system governance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1527154420988003DOI Listing
May 2021

Targeting anticorruption interventions at the front line: developmental governance in health systems.

BMJ Glob Health 2020 12;5(12)

Department of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.

In 2008, Vian reported an increasing interest in understanding how corruption affects healthcare outcomes and asked what could be done to combat corruption in the health sector. Eleven years later, corruption is seen as a heterogeneous mix of activity, extensive and expensive in terms of loss of productivity, increasing inequity and costs, but with few examples of programmes that have successfully tackled corruption in low-income or middle-income countries. The commitment, by multilateral organisations and many governments to the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage has renewed an interest to find ways to tackle corruption within health systems. These efforts must, however, begin with a critical assessment of the existing theoretical models and approaches that have underpinned action in the health sector in the past and an assessment of the potential of innovations from anticorruption work developed in sectors other than health. To that end, this paper maps the key debates and theoretical frameworks that have dominated research on corruption in health. It examines their limitations, the blind spots that they create in terms of the questions asked, and the capacity for research to take account of contextual factors that drive practice. It draws on new work from heterodox economics which seeks to target anticorruption interventions at practices that have high impact and which are politically and economically feasible to address. We consider how such approaches can be adopted into health systems and what new questions need to be addressed by researchers to support the development of sustainable solutions to corruption. We present a short case study from Bangladesh to show how such an approach reveals new perspectives on actors and drivers of corruption practice. We conclude by considering the most important areas for research and policy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2020-003092DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7716661PMC
December 2020

Do social accountability approaches work? A review of the literature from selected low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia region.

Health Policy Plan 2020 Nov;35(Supplement_1):i76-i96

Centre of Excellence for Health Systems and Universal Health Coverage (CoE-HS&UHC), BRAC James P. Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, 5th Floor (Level-6), ICDDR,B Building, 68 Shahid Tajuddin Ahmed Sharani, Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh.

Governance failures undermine efforts to achieve universal health coverage and improve health in low- and middle-income countries by decreasing efficiency and equity. Punitive measures to improve governance are largely ineffective. Social accountability strategies are perceived to enhance transparency and accountability through bottom-up approaches, but their effectiveness has not been explored comprehensively in the health systems of low- and middle-income countries in south and Southeast Asia where these strategies have been promoted. We conducted a narrative literature review to explore innovative social accountability approaches in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Myanmar and Nepal spanning the period 2007-August 2017, searching PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar. To augment this, we also performed additional PubMed and Google Scholar searches (September 2017-December 2019) to identify recent papers, resulting in 38 documents (24 peer-reviewed articles and 14 grey sources), which we reviewed. Findings were analysed using framework analysis and categorized into three major themes: transparency/governance (eight), accountability (11) and community participation (five) papers. The majority of the reviewed approaches were implemented in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The interventions differed on context (geographical to social), range (boarder reform to specific approaches), actors (public to private) and levels (community-specific to system level). The initiatives were associated with a variety of positive outcomes (e.g. improved monitoring, resource mobilization, service provision plus as a bridge between the engaged community and the health system), yet the evidence is inconclusive as to the extent that these influence health outcomes and access to health care. The review shows that there is no common blueprint which makes accountability mechanisms viable and effective; the effectiveness of these initiatives depended largely on context, capacity, information, spectrum of actor involvement, independence from power agendas and leadership. Major challenges that undermined effective implementation include lack of capacity, poor commitment and design and insufficient community participation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapol/czaa107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7649670PMC
November 2020

Health, illness and healthcare-seeking behaviour of the street dwellers of Dhaka City, Bangladesh: qualitative exploratory study.

BMJ Open 2020 10 7;10(10):e035663. Epub 2020 Oct 7.

Centre of Excellence for Health Systems and Universal Health Coverage, BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Objective: This study explored the illness experiences and healthcare-seeking behaviour of a cross-section of street dwellers of Dhaka City for designing a customised intervention.

Design: A qualitative exploratory study of a sample of street dwellers of Dhaka City.

Setting: Samples were taken from three purposively selected spots of Dhaka City with a high concentration of the target population.

Participants: Fifteen in-depth interviews and six informal group discussions with 40 street dwellers (≥18 years), and key informant interviews with service providers (n=6) and policymakers (n=3) were conducted during January-June 2019 to elicit necessary data.

Primary Outcome Measures: Qualitative narrative of illness experiences of the sampled street dwellers, relevant healthcare-seeking behaviour and experiences of interactions with health systems.

Results: We focused on three main themes, namely, reported illnesses, relevant healthcare-seeking behaviour and health system experiences of the street dwellers. Findings reveal that most of the street dwellers suffered from fever and respiratory illnesses in the last 6 months; however, a majority did not visit formal facilities. They preferred visiting retail drug shops for advice and treatment or waited for self-recovery. Formal facilities were visited only when treatment from drug shops failed to cure them or they suffered serious illnesses or traumatic injury. The reproductive-age women did not seek pregnancy care and most deliveries took place in the street dwellings. Lack of awareness, financial constraints and fear of visiting formal facilities were some of the reasons mentioned. Those who visited formal facilities faced barriers like the cost of medicines and diagnostic tests, long waiting time and opportunity cost.

Conclusions: The street dwellers lacked access to formal health systems for needed services as the latter lags far behind to outreach this extremely vulnerable population. What they need is explicit targeting with a customised package of services based on their illness profile, at a time and place convenient to them with minimum or no cost implications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035663DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7542956PMC
October 2020

Correction to: The influence of corruption and governance in the delivery of frontline health care services in the public sector: a scoping review of current and future prospects in low and middle-income countries of south and south-east Asia.

BMC Public Health 2020 07 9;20(1):1082. Epub 2020 Jul 9.

BRAC James P. Grant BRAC School of Public Health, BRAC University, 5th Floor (Level-6), icddrb Building, 68 ShahidTajuddin Ahmed Sarani, Mohakhali, Dhaka, 1212, Bangladesh.

An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via the original article.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09197-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7350763PMC
July 2020

The influence of corruption and governance in the delivery of frontline health care services in the public sector: a scoping review of current and future prospects in low and middle-income countries of south and south-east Asia.

BMC Public Health 2020 06 8;20(1):880. Epub 2020 Jun 8.

BRAC James P. Grant BRAC School of Public Health, BRAC University, 5th Floor(Level-6), icddrb Building, 68 ShahidTajuddin Ahmed Sarani, Mohakhali, Dhaka, 1212, Bangladesh.

Background: The dynamic intersection of a pluralistic health system, large informal sector, and poor regulatory environment have provided conditions favourable for 'corruption' in the LMICs of south and south-east Asia region. 'Corruption' works to undermine the UHC goals of achieving equity, quality, and responsiveness including financial protection, especially while delivering frontline health care services. This scoping review examines current situation regarding health sector corruption at frontlines of service delivery in this region, related policy perspectives, and alternative strategies currently being tested to address this pervasive phenomenon.

Methods: A scoping review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) was conducted, using three search engines i.e., PubMed, SCOPUS and Google Scholar. A total of 15 articles and documents on corruption and 18 on governance were selected for analysis. A PRISMA extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) checklist was filled-in to complete this report. Data were extracted using a pre-designed template and analysed by 'mixed studies review' method.

Results: Common types of corruption like informal payments, bribery and absenteeism identified in the review have largely financial factors as the underlying cause. Poor salary and benefits, poor incentives and motivation, and poor governance have a damaging impact on health outcomes and the quality of health care services. These result in high out-of-pocket expenditure, erosion of trust in the system, and reduced service utilization. Implementing regulations remain constrained not only due to lack of institutional capacity but also political commitment. Lack of good governance encourage frontline health care providers to bend the rules of law and make centrally designed anti-corruption measures largely in-effective. Alternatively, a few bottom-up community-engaged interventions have been tested showing promising results. The challenge is to scale up the successful ones for measurable impact.

Conclusions: Corruption and lack of good governance in these countries undermine the delivery of quality essential health care services in an equitable manner, make it costly for the poor and disadvantaged, and results in poor health outcomes. Traditional measures to combat corruption have largely been ineffective, necessitating the need for innovative thinking if UHC is to be achieved by 2030.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-08975-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7278189PMC
June 2020

Tackling antimicrobial resistance in Bangladesh: A scoping review of policy and practice in human, animal and environment sectors.

PLoS One 2020 27;15(1):e0227947. Epub 2020 Jan 27.

Centre of Excellence for Health Systems and Universal Health Coverage, BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Background: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has become an emerging issue in the developing countries as well as in Bangladesh. AMR is aggravated by irrational use of antimicrobials in a largely unregulated pluralistic health system. This review presents a 'snap shot' of the current situation including existing policies and practices to address AMR, and the challenges and barriers associated with their implementation.

Methods: A systematic approach was adopted for identifying, screening, and selecting relevant literature on AMR situation in Bangladesh. We used Google Scholar, Pubmed, and Biomed Central databases for searching peer-reviewed literature in human, animal and environment sectors during January 2010-August 2019, and Google for grey materials from the institutional and journal websites. Two members of the study team independently reviewed these documents for inclusion in the analysis. We used a 'mixed studies review' method for synthesizing evidences from different studies.

Result: Of the final 47 articles, 35 were primary research, nine laboratory-based research, two review papers and one situation analysis report. Nineteen articles on human health dealt with prescribing and/or use of antimicrobials, five on self-medication, two on non-compliance of dosage, and 10 on the sensitivity and resistance patterns of antibiotics. Four papers focused on the use of antimicrobials in food animals and seven on environmental contamination. Findings reveal widespread availability of antimicrobials without prescription in the country including rise in its irrational use across sectors and consequent contamination of environment and spread of resistance. The development and transmission of AMR is deep-rooted in various supply and demand side factors. Implementation of existing policies and strategies remains a challenge due to poor awareness, inadequate resources and absence of national surveillance.

Conclusion: AMR is a multi-dimensional problem involving different sectors, disciplines and stakeholders requiring a One Health comprehensive approach for containment.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0227947PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6984725PMC
April 2020

Non-communicable disease (NCD) corners in public sector health facilities in Bangladesh: a qualitative study assessing challenges and opportunities for improving NCD services at the primary healthcare level.

BMJ Open 2019 10 7;9(10):e029562. Epub 2019 Oct 7.

Centre of Excellence for Universal Health Coverage (CoE-UHC), James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Objective: To explore healthcare providers' perspective on non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention and management services provided through the NCD corners in Bangladesh and to examine challenges and opportunities for strengthening NCD services delivery at the primary healthcare level.

Design: We used a grounded theory approach involving in-depth qualitative interviews with healthcare providers. We also used a health facility observation checklist to assess the NCD corners' service readiness. Furthermore, a stakeholder meeting with participants from the government, non-government organisations (NGOs), private sector, universities and news media was conducted.

Setting: Twelve subdistrict health facilities, locally known as upazila health complex (UHC), across four administrative divisions.

Participants: Participants for the in-depth qualitative interviews were health service providers, namely upazila health and family planning officers (n=4), resident medical officers (n=6), medical doctors (n=4) and civil surgeons (n=1). Participants for the stakeholder meeting were health policy makers, health programme managers, researchers, academicians, NGO workers, private health practitioners and news media reporters.

Results: Participants reported that diabetes, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were the major NCD-related problems. All participants acknowledged the governments' initiative to establish the NCD corners to support NCD service delivery. Participants thought the NCD corners have contributed substantially to increase NCD awareness, deliver NCD care and provide referral services. However, participants identified challenges including lack of specific guidelines and standard operating procedures; lack of trained human resources; inadequate laboratory facilities, logistics and medications; and poor recording and reporting systems.

Conclusion: The initiative taken by the Government of Bangladesh to set up the NCD corners at the primary healthcare level is appreciative. However, the NCD corners are still at nascent stage to provide prevention and management services for common NCDs. These findings need to be taken into consideration while expanding the NCD corners in other UHCs throughout the country.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-029562DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6797278PMC
October 2019

'Connecting the dots' for generating a momentum for Universal Health Coverage in Bangladesh: findings from a cross-sectional descriptive study.

BMJ Open 2019 07 17;9(7):e024509. Epub 2019 Jul 17.

Centre of Excellence for Health Systems and UHC, James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Objective: This study was conducted to explore how and whether, the strategic grants made by the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) in different sectors of health systems in the inception phase were able to 'connect the dots' for 'generating a momentum for Universal Health Coverage (UHC)' in the country.

Design: Cross-sectional descriptive study, using document review and qualitative methods.

Setting: Bangladesh, 17 UHC-related projects funded by the RF Transforming Health Systems (THS) initiative during 2010-2013.

Data: Available reports of the completed and on-going UHC projects, policy documents of the government relevant to UHC, key-informant interviews and feedback from grant recipients and relevant stakeholders in the policy and practice.

Outcome Measures: Key policy initiatives undertaken for implementing UHC activities by the government post grants disbursement.

Results: The RF THS grants simultaneously targeted and connected the academia, the public and non-profit development sectors and news media for awareness-building and advocacy on UHC, develop relevant policies and capacity for implementation including evidence generation. This strategy helped relevant stakeholders to come together to discuss and debate the core concepts, scopes and modalities of UHC in an attempt to reach a consensus. Additionally, experiences gained from implementation of the pilot projects helped in identifying possible entry points for initiating UHC activities in a low resource setting like Bangladesh.

Conclusions: During early years of UHC-related activities in Bangladesh, strategic investments of the RF THS initiative played a catalytic role in sensitising and mobilising different constituencies for concerted activities and undertaking necessary first steps. Learnings from this strategy may be of help to countries under similar conditions of 'low resource, apparent commitment, but poor governance,' on their journey towards UHC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024509DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6661671PMC
July 2019

Perceptions of appropriate treatment among the informal allopathic providers: insights from a qualitative study in two peri-urban areas in Bangladesh.

BMC Health Serv Res 2019 Jun 26;19(1):424. Epub 2019 Jun 26.

James P. Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Background: How the informal providers deliver health services are not well understood in Bangladesh. However, their practices are often considered inappropriate and unsafe. This study attempted to fill-in this knowledge gap by exploring their perceptions about diagnosis and appropriate treatment, as well as identifying existing barriers to provide appropriate treatment.

Methods: This exploratory study was conducted in two peri-urban areas of metropolitan Dhaka. Study participants were selected purposively, and an interview guideline was used to collect in-depth data from thirteen providers. Content analysis was applied through data immersion and themes identification, including coding and sub-coding, as well as data display matrix creation to draw conclusion.

Results: The providers relied mainly on the history and presenting symptoms for diagnosis. Information and guidelines provided by the pharmaceutical representatives were important aids in their diagnosis and treatment decision making. Lack of training, diagnostic tools and medicine, along with consumer demands for certain medicine i.e. antibiotics, were cited as barriers to deliver appropriate care. Effective and supportive supervision, training, patient education, and availability of diagnostics and guidelines in Bangla were considered necessary in overcoming these barriers.

Conclusion: Informal providers lack the knowledge and skills for delivering appropriate treatment and care. As they provide health services for substantial proportion of the population, it's crucial that policy makers become cognizant of the fact and take measures to remedy them. This is even more urgent if government's goal to reach universal health coverage by 2030 is to be achieved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12913-019-4254-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6595608PMC
June 2019

Pathways of antibiotic use in Bangladesh: qualitative protocol for the PAUSE study.

BMJ Open 2019 01 25;9(1):e028215. Epub 2019 Jan 25.

Infectious Diseases Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Introduction: Global actions to reduce antimicrobial resistance (AMR) include optimising the use of antimicrobial medicines in human and animal health. In countries with weak healthcare regulation, this requires a greater understanding of the drivers of antibiotic use from the perspective of providers and consumers. In Bangladesh, there is limited research on household decision-making and healthcare seeking in relation to antibiotic use and consumption for humans and livestock. Knowledge is similarly lacking on factors influencing the supply and demand for antibiotics among qualified and unqualified healthcare providers.The aim of this study is to conduct integrated research on household decision-making for healthcare and antibiotic use, as well as the awareness, behaviours and priorities of healthcare providers and sellers of antibiotics to translate into policy development and implementation.

Methods And Analysis: In-depth interviews will be conducted with (1) household members responsible for decision-making about illness and antibiotic use for family and livestock; (2) qualified and unqualified private and government healthcare providers in human and animal medicine and (3) stakeholders and policy-makers as key informants on the development and implementation of policy around AMR. Participant observation within retail drug shops will also be carried out. Qualitative methods will include a thematic framework analysis.A holistic approach to understanding who makes decisions on the sale and use of antibiotics, and what drives healthcare seeking in Bangladesh will enable identification of routes to behavioural change and the development of effective interventions to reduce the health risks of AMR.

Ethics And Dissemination: Approval for the study has been obtained from the Institutional Review Board at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh following review by the Research and Ethics Committees (PR-16100) and from Loughborough University (R17-P081). Information about the study will be provided in a participant information letter in Bangla (to be read verbally and given in writing to participants). A written informed consent form in Bangla will be obtained and participants will be informed of their right to withdraw from the study. Dissemination will take place through a 1 day dissemination workshop with key stakeholders in public health and policy, practitioners and scientists in Bangladesh, and through international conference presentations and peer-review publications. Anonymised transcripts of interviews will be made available through open access via institutional data repositories after an embargo period.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-028215DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6352800PMC
January 2019

Women's Preferences for Maternal Healthcare Services in Bangladesh: Evidence from a Discrete Choice Experiment.

J Clin Med 2019 Jan 23;8(2). Epub 2019 Jan 23.

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool L3 5QA, United Kingdom.

Despite substantial improvements in several maternal health indicators, childbearing and birthing remain a dangerous experience for many women in Bangladesh. This study assessed the relative importance of maternal healthcare service characteristics to Bangladeshi women when choosing a health facility to deliver their babies. The study used a mixed-methods approach. Qualitative methods (expert interviews, focus group discussions) were initially employed to identify and develop the characteristics which most influence a women's decision making when selecting a maternal health service facility. A discrete choice experiment (DCE) was then constructed to elicit women's preferences. Women were shown choice scenarios representing hypothetical health facilities with nine attributes outlined. The women were then asked to rank the attributes they considered most important in the delivery of their future babies. A Hierarchical Bayes method was used to measure mean utility parameters. A total of 601 women completed the DCE survey. The model demonstrated significant predictive strength for actual facility choice for maternal health services. The most important attributes were the following: consistent access to a female doctor, the availability of branded drugs, respectful provider attitudes, a continuum of maternal healthcare including the availability of a C-section delivery and lesser waiting times. Attended maternal healthcare utilisation rates are low despite the access to primary healthcare facilities. Further implementation of quality improvements in maternal healthcare facilities should be prioritised.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm8020132DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6406443PMC
January 2019

'Feminization' of physician workforce in Bangladesh, underlying factors and implications for health system: Insights from a mixed-methods study.

PLoS One 2019 11;14(1):e0210820. Epub 2019 Jan 11.

BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Background: Bangladesh is currently faced with an emerging scenario of increased number of female physicians in the health workforce which has health system implications. For a health system to attract and retain female physicians, information is needed regarding their motivation to choose medical profession, real-life challenges encountered in home and workplaces, propensity to choose a few particular specialties, and factors leading to drop-out from the system. This exploratory mixed-methods study attempted to fill-in this knowledge gap and help the policy makers in designing a gender-sensitive health system.

Methods: Three-hundred and fifteen final year female medical students from four purposively selected medical colleges of Dhaka city (two each from public and private colleges) were included in a quantitative survey using self-administered questionnaire. Besides, 31 in-depth interviews with female students, their parents, and in-service trainee physicians, and two focus group discussions with female students were conducted. Gender disaggregated data of physicians and admitted students were also collected. Data were analysed using Stata version 13 and thematic analysis method, as appropriate.

Results: During 2006-2015, the female physicians outnumbered their male peers (52% vs. 48%), which is also supported by student admission data during 2011-2016 from the sampled medical colleges, (67% in private compared to 52% in public). Majority of the female medical graduates specialized in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (96%). Social status (66%), respect for medical profession (91%), image of a 'noble profession' (91%), and prospects of helping common people (94%) were common motivating factors for them. Gender disparity in work, career and work environment especially in rural areas, and problems of work-home balance, were a few of the challenges mentioned which forced some of them to drop-out. Also, this scenario conditioned them to crowd into a few selected specialties, thereby constraining health system from delivering needed services.

Conclusions: Increasing number of female physicians in health workforce, outnumbering their male peers, is a fact of life for health system of Bangladesh. It's high time that policy makers pay attention to this and take appropriate remedial measures so that women can pursue their career in an enabling environment and serve the needs and priorities of the health system.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0210820PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329528PMC
October 2019

Retaining Doctors in Rural Bangladesh: A Policy Analysis.

Int J Health Policy Manag 2018 09 1;7(9):847-858. Epub 2018 Sep 1.

Health Nutrition and Population, Human Development Network, The World Bank, Washington, DC, USA.

Background: Retaining doctors in rural areas is a challenge in Bangladesh. In this study, we analyzed three rural retention policies: career development programs, compulsory services, and schools outside major cities - in terms of context, contents, actors, and processes.

Methods: Series of group discussions between policy-makers and researchers prompted the selection of policy areas, which were analyzed using the policy triangle framework. We conducted document and literature reviews (1971-2013), key informant interviews (KIIs) with relevant policy elites (n=11), and stakeholder analysis/position-mapping.

Results: In policy-1, we found, applicants with relevant expertise were not leveraged in recruitment, promotions were often late and contingent on post-graduation. Career tracks were porous and unplanned: people without necessary expertise or experience were deployed to high positions by lateral migration from unrelated career tracks or ministries, as opposed to vertical promotion. Promotions were often politically motivated. In policy-2, females were not ensured to stay with their spouse in rural areas, health bureaucrats working at district and sub-district levels relaxed their monitoring for personal gain or political pressure. Impractical rural posts were allegedly created to graft money from applicants in exchange for recruitment assurance. Compulsory service was often waived for political affiliates. In policy-3, we found an absence of clear policy documents obligating establishment of medical colleges in rural areas. These were established based on political consideration (public sector) or profit motives (private sector).

Conclusion: Four cross-cutting themes were identified: lack of proper systems or policies, vested interest or corruption, undue political influence, and imbalanced power and position of some stakeholders. Based on findings, we recommend, in policy-1, applicants with relevant expertise to be recruited; recruitment should be quick, customized, and transparent; career tracks (General Health Service, Medical Teaching, Health Administration) must be clearly defined, distinct, and respected. In policy-2, facilities must be ensured prior to postings, female doctors should be prioritized to stay with the spouse, field bureaucrats should receive non-practising allowance in exchange of strict monitoring, and no political interference in compulsory service is assured. In policy-3, specific policy guidelines should be developed to establish rural medical colleges. Political commitment is a key to rural retention of doctors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.15171/ijhpm.2018.37DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6186485PMC
September 2018

What constitutes responsiveness of physicians: A qualitative study in rural Bangladesh.

PLoS One 2017 18;12(12):e0189962. Epub 2017 Dec 18.

BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Responsiveness entails the social actions by health providers to meet the legitimate expectations of patients. It plays a critical role in ensuring continuity and effectiveness of care within people centered health systems. Given the lack of contextualized research on responsiveness, we qualitatively explored the perceptions of outpatient users and providers regarding what constitute responsiveness in rural Bangladesh. An exploratory study was undertaken in Chuadanga, a southwestern Bangladeshi District, involving in-depth interviews of physicians (n = 17) and users (n = 7), focus group discussions with users (n = 4), and observations of patient provider interactions (three weeks). Analysis was guided by a conceptual framework of responsiveness, which includes friendliness, respecting, informing and guiding, gaining trust and optimizing benefits. In terms of friendliness, patients expected physicians to greet them before starting consultations; even though physicians considered this unusual. Patients also expected physicians to hold social talks during consultations, which was uncommon. With regards to respect patients expected physicians to refrain from disrespecting them in various ways; but also by showing respect explicitly. Patients also had expectations related to informing and guiding: they desired explanation on at least the diagnosis, seriousness of illness, treatment and preventive steps. In gaining trust, patients expected that physicians would refrain from illegal or unethical activities related to patients, e.g., demanding money against free services, bringing patients in own private clinics by brokers (dalals), colluding with diagnostic centers, accepting gifts from pharmaceutical representatives. In terms of optimizing benefits: patients expected that physicians should be financially sensitive and consider individual need of patients. There were multiple dimensions of responsiveness- for some, stakeholders had a consensus; context was an important factor to understand them. This being an exploratory study, further research is recommended to validate the nuances of the findings. It can be a guideline for responsiveness practices, and a tipping point for future research.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0189962PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5734771PMC
January 2018

Exploring the status of retail private drug shops in Bangladesh and action points for developing an accredited drug shop model: a facility based cross-sectional study.

J Pharm Policy Pract 2017 11;10:21. Epub 2017 Jul 11.

Health Systems and Population Studies Division, icddr,b, Dhaka, 1212 Bangladesh.

Background: The private retail drug shops market in Bangladesh is largely unregulated and unaccountable, giving rise to irrational use of drugs and high Out-of-pocket expenditure on health. These shops are served by salespersons with meagre or no formal training in dispensing.

Method: This facility-based cross-sectional study was undertaken to investigate how the drug shops currently operate vis-a-vis the regulatory regime including dispensing practices of the salespersons, for identifying key action points to develop an accredited model for Bangladesh. About 90 rural and 21 urban retail drug shops from seven divisions were included in the survey. The salespersons were interviewed for relevant information, supplemented by qualitative data on perceptions of the catchment community as well as structured observation of client-provider interactions from a sub-sample.

Results: In 76% of the shops, the owner and the salesperson was the same person, and >90% of these were located within 30 min walking distance from a public sector health facility. The licensing process was perceived to be a cumbersome, lengthy, and costly process. Shop visit by drug inspectors were brief, wasn't structured, and not problem solving. Only 9% shops maintained a stock register and 10% a drug sales record. Overall, 65% clients visited drug shops without a prescription. Forty-nine percent of the salespersons had no formal training in dispensing and learned the trade through apprenticeship with fellow drug retailers (42%), relatives (18%), and village doctors (16%) etc. The catchment population of the drug shops mostly did not bother about dispensing training, drug shop licensing and buying drugs without prescription. Observed client-dispenser interactions were found to concentrate mainly on financial transaction, unless, the client pro-actively sought advice regarding the use of the drug.

Conclusions: Majority of the drug shops studied are run by salespersons who have informal 'training' through apprenticeship. Visiting drug shops without a prescription, and dispensing without counseling unless pro-actively sought by the client, was very common. The existing process is discouraging for the shop owners to seek license, and the shop inspection visits are irregular, unstructured and punitive. These facts should be considered while designing an accredited model of drug shop for Bangladesh.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40545-017-0108-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506600PMC
July 2017

Governing the mixed health workforce: learning from Asian experiences.

BMJ Glob Health 2017 7;2(2):e000267. Epub 2017 Apr 7.

Centre of Excellence for UHC, James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Examination of the composition of the health workforce in many low and middle-income countries (LMICs) reveals deep-seated heterogeneity that manifests in multiple ways: varying levels of official legitimacy and informality of practice; wide gradation in type of employment and behaviour (public to private) and diverse, sometimes overlapping, systems of knowledge and variably specialised cadres of providers. Coordinating this mixed workforce necessitates an approach to governance that is responsive to the opportunities and challenges presented by this diversity. This article discusses some of these opportunities and challenges for LMICs in general, and illustrates them through three case studies from different Asian country settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2016-000267DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435263PMC
April 2017

Cross-country analysis of strategies for achieving progress towards global goals for women's and children's health.

Bull World Health Organ 2016 May 2;94(5):351-61. Epub 2016 May 2.

Family, Women's and Children's Health, World Health Organization, Avenue Appia 20, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland .

Objective: To identify how 10 low- and middle-income countries achieved accelerated progress, ahead of comparable countries, towards meeting millennium development goals 4 and 5A to reduce child and maternal mortality.

Methods: We synthesized findings from multistakeholder dialogues and country policy reports conducted previously for the Success Factors studies in 10 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda and Viet Nam. A framework approach was used to analyse and synthesize the data from the country reports, resulting in descriptive or explanatory conclusions by theme.

Findings: Successful policy and programme approaches were categorized in four strategic areas: leadership and multistakeholder partnerships; health sector; sectors outside health; and accountability for resources and results. Consistent and coordinated inputs across sectors, based on high-impact interventions, were assessed. Within the health sector, key policy and programme strategies included defining standards, collecting and using data, improving financial protection, and improving the availability and quality of services. Outside the health sector, strategies included investing in girls' education, water, sanitation and hygiene, poverty reduction, nutrition and food security, and infrastructure development. Countries improved accountability by strengthening and using data systems for planning and evaluating progress.

Conclusion: Reducing maternal and child mortality in the 10 fast-track countries can be linked to consistent and coordinated policy and programme inputs across health and other sectors. The approaches used by successful countries have relevance to other countries looking to scale-up or accelerate progress towards the sustainable development goals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2471/BLT.15.168450DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4850533PMC
May 2016

Career preferences of final year medical students at a medical school in Kenya--A cross sectional study.

BMC Med Educ 2016 Jan 11;16. Epub 2016 Jan 11.

James P. Grant School of Public Health, 68, Shahid Tajuddin Ahmed Sharani, icddr,b Building (Level-6), Mohakhali, Dhaka, 1212, Bangladesh.

Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended physician to population ratio is 23:10,000. Kenya has a physician to population ratio of 1.8:10,000 and is among 57 countries listed as having a serious shortage of health workers. Approximately 52% of physicians work in urban areas, 6% in rural and 42% in peri-urban locations. This study explored factors influencing the choice of career specialization and location for practice among final year medical students by gender.

Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out on final year students in 2013 at the University of Nairobi's, School of Medicine in Kenya. Sample size was calculated at 156 students for simple random sampling. Data collected using a pre-tested self-administered questionnaire included socio-demographic characteristics of the population, first and second choices for specialization. Outcome variables collected were factors affecting choice of specialty and location for practice. Bivariate analysis by gender was carried out between the listed factors and outcome variables with calculation of odds ratios and chi-square statistics at an alpha level of significance of 0.05. Factors included in a binomial logistic regression model were analysed to score the independent categorical variables affecting choice of specialty and location of practice.

Results: Internal medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics/Gynaecology and Paediatrics accounted for 58.7% of all choices of specialization. Female students were less likely to select Obs/Gyn (OR 0.41, 95% CI =0.17-0.99) and Surgery (OR 0.33, 95% CI = 0.13-0.86) but eight times more likely to select Paediatrics (OR 8.67, 95% CI = 1.91-39.30). Surgery was primarily selected because of the 'perceived prestige of the specialty' (OR 4.3 95% CI = 1.35-14.1). Paediatrics was selected due to 'Ease of raising a family' (OR 4.08 95% CI = 1.08-15.4). Rural origin increased the odds of practicing in a rural area (OR 2.5, 95% CI = 1.04-6.04). Training abroad was more likely to result in preference for working abroad (OR 9.27 95% CI = 2.1-41.9).

Conclusions: The 4 core specialties predominate as career preferences. Females are more likely to select career choices due to 'ease of raising a family'. Rural origin of students was found to be the most important factor for retention of rural health workforce. This data can be used to design prospective cohort studies in an effort to understand the dynamic influence that governments, educational institutions, work environments, family and friends exert on medical students' careers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12909-016-0528-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4709906PMC
January 2016

Prevention and control of tuberculosis in workplaces: how knowledgeable are the workers in Bangladesh?

BMC Public Health 2015 Dec 24;15:1291. Epub 2015 Dec 24.

Centre of Excellence for Universal Health Coverage James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, 68 Shahid Tajuddin Ahmed Sharani, 5th Floor(Level-6), ICDDR,B Building Mohakhali, Dhaka, 1212, Bangladesh.

Background: The National Tuberculosis (TB) Control Programme (NTP) of Bangladesh succeeded in achieving the dual targets of 70 % case detection and 85 % treatment completion as set by the World Health Organization. However, TB prevention and control in work places remained largely an uncharted area for NTP. There is dearth of information regarding manufacturing workers' current knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) on pulmonary TB which is essential for designing a TB prevention and control programme in the workplaces. This study aimed to fill-in this knowledge gap.

Methods: This cross-sectional survey was done in multiple workplaces like garment factories, jute mills, bidi/tobacco factories, flour mills, and steel mills using a multi-stage sampling procedure. Data on workers' KAP related to pulmonary TB were collected from 4800 workers in face-to-face interview.

Results: The workers were quite knowledgeable about symptoms of pulmonary TB (72 %) and free- of-cost sputum test (86 %) and drug treatment (88 %), but possessed superficial knowledge regarding causation (4 %) and mode of transmission (48 %). Only 11 % knew about preventive measures e.g., taking BCG vaccine and/or refraining from spitting here and there. Knowledge about treatment duration (43 %) and consequences of incomplete treatment (11 %) was poor. Thirty-one percent were afraid of the disease, 21 % would feel embarrassed (and less dignified) if they would have TB, and 50 % were afraid of isolation if neighbours would come to know about it. Workers with formal education (AOR 1.92; 95 % CI 1.61, 2.29) and exposure to community health workers (CHW) (AOR 31.60; 95 % CI 18.75, 53.35) were more likely to have TB knowledge score ≥ mean. Workers with knowledge score ≥ mean (AOR = 1.91; 95 % CI:1.44, 2.53) and exposure to CHWs either alone (AOR = 42.4; 95 % CI: 9.94, 180.5) or in combination with print media (AOR = 37.35; 95 % CI: 9.1, 180.5) were more likely to go to DOTS centre for treatment . Only around 43 % had sputum examination despite having chronic cough of ≥ 3 weeks duration.

Conclusion: The workers had inadequate knowledge regarding its causation, transmission and prevention which may interfere with appropriate treatment-seeking for chronic cough including sputum test. NTP needs to be cognizant of these factors while designing a workplace TB prevention and control programme for Bangladesh.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-015-2622-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690220PMC
December 2015

Qualitative insights into promotion of pharmaceutical products in Bangladesh: how ethical are the practices?

BMC Med Ethics 2015 Dec 1;16(1):80. Epub 2015 Dec 1.

Centre for Equity and Health Systems, icddr,b and Centre of Excellence for Universal Health Coverage, icddr,b and JPGSPH, icddr,b and JPGSPH, BRAC University, 5th Floor(Level-6), icddrb Building, 68 ShahidTajuddin Ahmed Sharani, Mohakhali, Dhaka, 1212, Bangladesh.

Background: The pharmaceutical market in Bangladesh is highly concentrated (top ten control around 70 % of the market). Due to high competition aggressive marketing strategies are adopted for greater market share, which sometimes cross limit. There is lack of data on this aspect in Bangladesh. This exploratory study aimed to fill this gap by investigating current promotional practices of the pharmaceutical companies including the role of their medical representatives (MR).

Methods: This qualitative study was conducted as part of a larger study to explore the status of governance in health sector in 2009. Data were collected from Dhaka, Chittagong and Bogra districts through in-depth interview (healthcare providers and MRs), observation (physician-MR interaction), and round table discussion (chief executives and top management of the pharmaceutical companies).

Results: Findings reveal a highly structured system geared to generate prescriptions and ensure market share instituted by the pharmaceuticals. A comprehensive training curriculum for the MRs prepares the newly recruited science graduates for generating enough prescriptions by catering to the identified needs and demands of the physicians expressed or otherwise, and thus grab higher market-share for the companies they represent. Approaches such as inducements, persuasion, emotional blackmail, serving family members, etc. are used. The type, quantity and quality of inducements offered to the physicians depend upon his/her capacity to produce prescriptions. The popular physicians are cultivated meticulously by the MRs to establish brand loyalty and fulfill individual and company targets. The physicians, willingly or unwillingly, become part of the system with few exceptions. Neither the regulatory authority nor the professional or consumer rights bodies has any role to control or ractify the process.

Conclusions: The aggressive marketing of the pharmaceutical companies compel their MRs, programmed to maximize market share, to adopt unethical means if and when necessary. When medicines are prescribed and dispensed more for financial interests than for needs of the patients, it reflects system's failed ability to hold individuals and entities accountable for adhering to basic professional ethics, code of conduct, and statutory laws.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12910-015-0075-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4666091PMC
December 2015

Developing effective policy strategies to retain health workers in rural Bangladesh: a policy analysis.

Hum Resour Health 2015 May 20;13:36. Epub 2015 May 20.

International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research (icddr,b), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Introduction: Retention of human resources for health (HRH), particularly physicians and nurses in rural and remote areas, is a major problem in Bangladesh. We reviewed relevant policies and provisions in relation to HRH aiming to develop appropriate rural retention strategies in Bangladesh.

Methods: We conducted a document review, thorough search and review of relevant literature published from 1971 through May 2013, key informant interviews with policy elites (health policy makers, managers, researchers, etc.), and a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders and policy makers. We used the World Health Organization's (WHO's) guidelines as an analytical matrix to examine the rural retention policies under 4 domains, i) educational, ii) regulatory, iii) financial, and iv) professional and personal development, and 16 sub-domains.

Results: Over the past four decades, Bangladesh has developed and implemented a number of health-related policies and provisions concerning retention of HRH. The district quota system in admissions is in practice to improve geographical representation of the students. Students of special background including children of freedom fighters and tribal population have allocated quotas. In private medical and nursing schools, at least 5% of seats are allocated for scholarships. Medical education has a provision for clinical rotation in rural health facilities. Further, in the public sector, every newly recruited medical doctor must serve at least 2 years at the upazila level. To encourage serving in hard-to-reach areas, particularly in three Hill Tract districts of Chittagong division, the government provides an additional 33% of the basic salary, but not exceeding US$ 38 per month. This amount is not attractive enough, and such provision is absent for those working in other rural areas. Although the government has career development and promotion plans for doctors and nurses, these plans are often not clearly specified and not implemented effectively.

Conclusion: The government is committed to address the rural retention problem as shown through the formulation and implementation of related policies and strategies. However, Bangladesh needs more effective policies and provisions designed specifically for attraction, deployment, and retention of HRH in rural areas, and the execution of these policies and provisions must be monitored and evaluated effectively.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12960-015-0030-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4489117PMC
May 2015

Conventional or interpersonal communication: which works best in disseminating malaria information in an endemic rural Bangladeshi community?

PLoS One 2014 6;9(6):e90711. Epub 2014 Mar 6.

Health, Nutrition and Population Programme, BRAC, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Background: Since 2007, BRAC has been implementing malaria prevention and control programme in 13 endemic districts of Bangladesh under the National Malaria Control Programme. This study was done to examine the role of different communication media in bringing about changes in knowledge and awareness which facilitate informed decision-making for managing malaria-like illnesses.

Methods: A baseline survey in 2007 before inception of the programme, and a follow-up survey in 2012 were done to study changes in different aspects of programme interventions including the communication component. Both the surveys used the same sampling technique to select 25 households at random from each of the 30 mauza/villages in a district. A pre-tested, semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect relevant information from respondents in face-to-face interview. Analysis was done comparing the study areas at two different times. Statistical tests were done as necessary to examine the differences.

Results: The intervention succeeded in improving knowledge in some trivial areas (e.g., most frequent symptom suggestive of malaria, importance of using insecticidal bed nets) but not in critical domains necessary for taking informed action (e.g., mode of malaria transmission, awareness about facilities providing free malaria treatment). Inequity in knowledge and practice was quite common depending upon household affluence, location of households in high or low endemic districts, and sex. Of the different media used in Information, Education and communication (IEC) campaigns during the study period, interpersonal communication with community health workers/relatives/neighbours/friends was found to be more effective in improving knowledge and practice than conventional print and audio-visual media.

Conclusion: This study reiterates the fact that conventional media may not be user-friendly or culture-sensitive for this semi-literate/illiterate community where dissemination through 'words of mouth' is more common, and as such, interpersonal communication is more effective. This is especially important for initiating informed action by the community in managing malaria-like illnesses.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0090711PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3948336PMC
February 2015

Harnessing pluralism for better health in Bangladesh.

Lancet 2013 Nov 21;382(9906):1746-55. Epub 2013 Nov 21.

Centre for Equity and Health Systems, icddr,b, Dhaka, Bangladesh; Centre of Excellence for Universal Health Coverage, James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Electronic address:

How do we explain the paradox that Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in health and human development, yet its achievements have taken place within a health system that is frequently characterised as weak, in terms of inadequate physical and human infrastructure and logistics, and low performing? We argue that the development of a highly pluralistic health system environment, defined by the participation of a multiplicity of different stakeholders and agents and by ad hoc, diffused forms of management has contributed to these outcomes by creating conditions for rapid change. We use a combination of data from official sources, research studies, case studies of specific innovations, and in-depth knowledge from our own long-term engagement with health sector issues in Bangladesh to lay out a conceptual framework for understanding pluralism and its outcomes. Although we argue that pluralism has had positive effects in terms of stimulating change and innovation, we also note its association with poor health systems governance and regulation, resulting in endemic problems such as overuse and misuse of drugs. Pluralism therefore requires active management that acknowledges and works with its polycentric nature. We identify four key areas where this management is needed: participatory governance, accountability and regulation, information systems, and capacity development. This approach challenges some mainstream frameworks for managing health systems, such as the building blocks approach of the WHO Health Systems Framework. However, as pluralism increasingly defines the nature and the challenge of 21st century health systems, the experience of Bangladesh is relevant to many countries across the world.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62147-9DOI Listing
November 2013

Availability and rational use of drugs in primary healthcare facilities following the national drug policy of 1982: is Bangladesh on right track?

J Health Popul Nutr 2012 Mar;30(1):99-108

Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC, BRAC Centre, 75 Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, the National Drug Policy (NDP) 1982 was instrumental in improving the supply of essential drugs of quality at an affordable price, especially in the early years. However, over time, evidence showed that the situation deteriorated in terms of both availability of essential drugs and their rational use. The study examined the current status of the outcome of the NDP objectives in terms of the availability and rational use of drugs in the primary healthcare (PHC) facilities in Bangladesh, including affordability by consumers. The study covered a random sample (n=30) of rural Upazila Health Complexes (UHCs) and a convenient sample (n=20) of urban clinics (UCs) in the Dhaka metropolitan area. Observations on prescribing and dispensing practices were made, and exit-interviews with patients and their attendants, and a mini-market survey were conducted to collect data on the core drug-use indicators of the World Health Organization from the health facilities. The findings revealed that the availability of essential drugs for common illnesses was poor, varying from 6% in the UHCs to 15% in the UCs. The number of drugs dispensed out of the total number of drugs prescribed was higher in the UHCs (76%) than in the UCs (44%). The dispensed drugs were not labelled properly, although >70% of patients/care-givers (n=1,496) reported to have understood the dosage schedule. The copy of the list of essential drugs was available in 55% and 47% of the UCs and UHCs respectively, with around two-thirds of the drugs being prescribed from the list. Polypharmacy was higher in the UCs (46%) than in the UHCs (33%). An antibiotic was prescribed in 44% of encounters (n=1,496), more frequently for fever (36-40%) and common cold (26-34%) than for lower respiratory tract infection, including pneumonia (10-20%). The prices of key essential drugs differed widely by brands (500% or more), seriously compromising the affordability of the poor people. Thus, the availability and rational use of drugs and the affordability of the poor people have remained to be achieved in Bangladesh even 27 years after approving the much-acclaimed NDP 1982.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312366PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.3329/jhpn.v30i1.11289DOI Listing
March 2012

The health workforce crisis in Bangladesh: shortage, inappropriate skill-mix and inequitable distribution.

Hum Resour Health 2011 Jan 22;9. Epub 2011 Jan 22.

Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC, 75 Mohakhali, Dhaka-1212, Bangladesh.

Background: Bangladesh is identified as one of the countries with severe health worker shortages. However, there is a lack of comprehensive data on human resources for health (HRH) in the formal and informal sectors in Bangladesh. This data is essential for developing an HRH policy and plan to meet the changing health needs of the population. This paper attempts to fill in this knowledge gap by using data from a nationally representative sample survey conducted in 2007.

Methods: The study population in this survey comprised all types of currently active health care providers (HCPs) in the formal and informal sectors. The survey used 60 unions/wards from both rural and urban areas (with a comparable average population of approximately 25 000) which were proportionally allocated based on a 'Probability Proportion to Size' sampling technique for the six divisions and distribution areas. A simple free listing was done to make an inventory of the practicing HCPs in each of the sampled areas and cross-checking with community was done for confirmation and to avoid duplication. This exercise yielded the required list of different HCPs by union/ward.

Results: HCP density was measured per 10 000 population. There were approximately five physicians and two nurses per 10 000, the ratio of nurse to physician being only 0.4. Substantial variation among different divisions was found, with gross imbalance in distribution favouring the urban areas. There were around 12 unqualified village doctors and 11 salespeople at drug retail outlets per 10 000, the latter being uniformly spread across the country. Also, there were twice as many community health workers (CHWs) from the non-governmental sector than the government sector and an overwhelming number of traditional birth attendants. The village doctors (predominantly males) and the CHWs (predominantly females) were mainly concentrated in the rural areas, while the paraprofessionals were concentrated in the urban areas. Other data revealed the number of faith/traditional healers, homeopaths (qualified and non-qualified) and basic care providers.

Conclusions: Bangladesh is suffering from a severe HRH crisis--in terms of a shortage of qualified providers, an inappropriate skills-mix and inequity in distribution--which requires immediate attention from policy makers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1478-4491-9-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037300PMC
January 2011

Using formative research to develop MNCH programme in urban slums in Bangladesh: experiences from MANOSHI, BRAC.

BMC Public Health 2010 Nov 2;10:663. Epub 2010 Nov 2.

Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC 75 Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh.

Background: MANOSHI, an integrated community-based package of essential Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH) services is being implemented by BRAC in the urban slums of Bangladesh since 2007. The objective of the formative research done during the inception phase was to understand the context and existing resources available in the slums, to reduce uncertainty about anticipated effects, and develop and refine the intervention components.

Methods: Data were collected during Jan-Sept 2007 in one of the earliest sites of programme intervention in the Dhaka metropolitan area. A conceptual framework guided data collection at different stages. Besides exploring slum characteristics, studies were done to map existing MNCH service providing facilities and providers, explore existing MNCH-related practices, and make an inventory of community networks/groups with a stake in MNCH service provision. Also, initial perception and expectations regarding the community delivery centres launched by the programme was explored. Transect walk, observation, pile sorting, informal and focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, case studies, network analysis and small quantitative surveys were done to collect data.

Results: Findings reveal that though there are various MNCH services and providers available in the slums, their capacity to provide rational and quality services is questionable. Community has superficial knowledge of MNCH care and services, but this is inadequate to facilitate the optimal survival of mothers and neonates. Due to economic hardships, the slum community mainly relies on cheap informal sector for health care. Cultural beliefs and practices also reinforce this behaviour including home delivery without skilled assistance. Men and women differed in their perception of pregnancy and delivery: men were more concerned with expenses while women expressed fear of the whole process, including delivering at hospitals. People expected 'one-stop' MNCH services from the community delivery centres by skilled personnel. Social support network for health was poor compared to other networks. Referral linkages to higher facilities were inadequate, fragmentary, and disorganised.

Conclusions: Findings from formative research reduced contextual uncertainty about existing MNCH resources and care in the slum. It informed MANOSHI to build up an intervention which is relevant and responsive to the felt needs of the slum population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-10-663DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3091574PMC
November 2010