Health in Bangladesh

Health and education levels remain relatively low, although they have improved recently as poverty (31% at 2010[1]) levels have decreased.

Health infrastructure

The total expenditure on healthcare as a percentage of Bangladesh's GDP was 3.35% in 2009.[2]

The number of hospital beds per 10,000 population is 3.[3] The General government expenditure on healthcare as a percentage of total government expenditure was 7.9% as of 2009 and the citizens pay most of their health care bills as the out-of-pocket expenditure as a percentage of private expenditure on health is 96.5%.[2]


Further information: List of hospitals in Bangladesh

Medical schools

Health status


Child malnutrition in Bangladesh is amongst the highest in the world. Two-thirds of the children under the age of five are under-nourished and about 60% of children under age six,are stunted.[4] As of 1985, more than 45 percent of rural families and 76 percent of urban families were below the acceptable caloric intake level.[5] Malnutrition is passed on through generations as malnourished mothers give birth to malnourished children. About one-third of babies in Bangladesh are born with low birth weight, increasing infant mortality rate, and an increased risk of diabetes and heart aliments in adulthood.[6] One neonate dies in Bangladesh every three to four minutes; 120 000 neonates die every year.[7]

The World Bank estimates that Bangladesh is ranked 1st in the world of the number of children suffering from malnutrition.[8][7] In Bangladesh, 26% of the population are undernourished[9] and 46% of the children suffers from moderate to severe underweight problem.[10] 43% of children under 5 years old are stunted. One in five preschool age children are vitamin A deficient and one in two are anemic.[11] Women also suffer most from malnutrition. To provide their family with food they pass on quality food which are essential for their nutrition.[12]

Causes of malnutrition

Most terrain of Bangladesh is low-lying and is prone to flooding. A large population of the country lives in areas that are at risk of experiencing extreme annual flooding that brings large destruction to the crops.[13] Every year, 20% to 30% of Bangladesh is flooded.[14] Floods threaten food security and their effects on agricultural production cause food shortage.[15]

The health and sanitation environment also affects malnutrition. Inadequacies in water supply, hygiene and sanitation have direct impacts on infectious diseases, such as malaria, parasitic diseases, and schistosomiasis. People are exposed to both water scarcity and poor water quality. Groundwater is often found to contain high arsenic concentration.[16] Sanitation coverage in rural areas was only 35% in 1995.[17]

Almost one in three people in Bangladesh defecates in the open among the poorest families. Only 32% of the latrines in rural areas attain the international standards for a sanitary latrine. People are exposed to feces in their environment daily.[18] The immune system falls and the disease processes exacerbate loss of nutrients, which worsens malnutrition.[19] The diseases also contribute through the loss of appetite, lowered absorption of vitamins and nutrients, and loss of nutrients through diarrhea or vomiting.[20]

Unemployment and job problems also lead to malnutrition in Bangladesh. In 2010, the unemployment rate was 5.1%.[21] People do not have working facilities all year round and they are unable to afford the minimum cost of a nutritious diet due to the unsteady income.[22]

Effects of malnutrition in Bangladesh

Health effects

Undernourished mothers often give birth to infants who will have difficulty growing up and developing into a healthy teenager. They develop health problems such as wasting, stunting, underweight, anemia, night blindness and iodine deficiency.[8] As a result, Bangladesh has a high child mortality rate and is ranked 57 in the under-5 mortality rank.[23]

Economic effects

As 40% of the population in Bangladesh are children,[24] malnutrition and its health effects among children can potentially lead to a lower educational attainment rate. Only 50% of an age group of children in Bangladesh managed to enroll into secondary school education.[23] This would result in a low-skilled and low productivity workforce which would affect the economic growth rate of Bangladesh with only 3% GDP growth in 2009.[23]

Efforts to combat malnutrition

Many programmes and efforts have been implemented to solve the problem of malnutrition in Bangladesh. UNICEF together with the government of Bangladesh and many other NGOs such as Helen Keller International, focus on improving the nutritional access of the population throughout their life-cycle from infants to the child-bearing mother.[8] The impacts of the intervention are significant. Night blindness has reduced from 3.76% to 0.04% and iodine deficiency among school-aged children has decreased from 42.5% to 33.8%.[8]

Maternal and child health

One in eight women receive delivery care from medically trained providers and fewer than half of all pregnant women in Bangladesh seek ante-natal care. Inequity in maternity care is significantly reduced by ensuring the accessibility of heath services.[25] The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Bangladesh is 340.[26] This is compared with 338.3 in 2008 and 724.4 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 55 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 57. In Bangladesh the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 8 and the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women 1 in 110.[26]

See also


  1. Shah, Jahangir (18 April 2011). দারিদ্র্য কমেছে, আয় বেড়েছে [Reduced poverty, increased income]. Prothom Alo (in Bangla). Archived from the original on 20 April 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  2. 1 2 "Global Health Observatory Data Repository". WHO. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  3. "Hospital Beds (Per 10,000 Population), 2005-2011". The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  4. "Bangladesh Healthcare Crisis". BBC News. 28 February 2000. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  5. Heitzman, James; Worden, Robert, eds. (1989). "Health". Bangladesh: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. p. 90.
  6. "Fighting Malnutrition in Bangladesh". World Bank in Bangladesh. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  7. 1 2 "Children and women suffer severe malnutrition". IRIN. 19 November 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  8. 1 2 3 4 "Child and Maternal Nutrition in Bangladesh" (PDF). UNICEF.
  9. "The state of food insecurity in the food 2011" (PDF). FAO.
  10. "The State of the World's Children 2011" (PDF). UNICEF.
  11. "High Malnutrition in Bangladesh prevents children from becoming "Tigers"". Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.
  12. Rizvi, Najma (22 March 2013). "Enduring misery". D+C Development and Cooperation. Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.
  13. "Rural poverty in Bangladesh". Rural Poverty Portal. International Fund for Agricultural Development.
  14. "Bangladesh: Priorities for Agriculture and Rural Development". World Bank. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008.
  15. "Poverty Profile People's Republic of Bangladesh Executive Summary" (PDF). Japan International Cooperation Agency. Japan Bank for International Cooperation. October 2007.
  16. "Bangladesh's Water Crisis".
  17. "A participatory approach to sanitation: experience of Bangladeshi NGOs" (PDF).
  18. "Rural Sanitation, Hygiene and Water Supply" (PDF). UNICEF.
  19. "C. Nutrition and Infectious Disease Control". Supplement to SCN News No. 7 (Mid-1991). United Nations.
  20. "Underlying Causes of Malnutrition". Mother and Child Nutrition. The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust.
  21. "Unemployment Problem in Bangladesh".
  22. "Nutrition Program".
  23. 1 2 3 "Bangladesh – Statistics". UNICEF.
  24. "Bangladesh, Effects of the Financial Crisis on Vulnerable Households" (PDF). WFP.
  25. Rahman, M. H.; Mosley, W. H.; Ahmed, S.; Akhter, H. H. (January 2008). "Does Service Accessibility Reduce Socio-Economic Differentials In Maternity Care Seeking? Evidence From Rural Bangladesh". Journal of Biosocial Science. Cambridge University Press. 40 (1): 19–33. doi:10.1017/S0021932007002258.
  26. 1 2 "The State of the World's Midwifery" (PDF). United Nations Population Fund. 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
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