Good health at low cost 25 years on. What makes a successful health system?
Bangladesh became a nation in 1971 under the most difficult
circumstances and since then has made huge strides in improving its
population’s health. A political commitment to health was enshrined
in the 1972 Constitution, and policies have transcended political
change while constantly adapting to emerging issues.
Bangladesh was one of the first developing countries to strongly
endorse a national family planning programme, resulting in a dramatic
reduction in fertility. Bangladesh’s basic population and health
indicators are on a par with or better than its neighbours, despite
having a lower per capita income.
Bangladesh has continued to be an innovator in health policies and in
testing and adapting low cost technologies in the health sector, while
maintaining long-term continuity of policies. This is demonstrated by
its long history of community and voluntary health workers who
bring appropriate technologies to its people.
Innovation has been facilitated by an environment that has created
policy space for the non-state sector. Bangladesh’s world renowned
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and initiatives in health have
grown and matured alongside public sector activities, often working
together to deliver services.
Bangladesh’s health achievements have occurred in the context of
improved literacy, economic development and some positive changes
in the social fabric of the nation.