The BMJ, an international medical journal, recently published an article entitled, “Why has Bangladesh done so well?” In the article, Richard Smith, the chair of the Board of Trustees of icddr,b (formerly known as the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh) discusses the elements that may have helped improve the standard of living in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has had a tumultous past, rife with episodes of civil unrest, war and famine, with each event resulting high mortality rates. However, it has now become one of the few low income countries to achieve the Millenium Development Goals: life expectancy has increased from 50 to 70+, child deaths under 5 years have dropped from 25% to 4%, and maternal mortality has fallen from 700 per 100 000 to 150. Almost all children go to school, and the literacy rate of ~67% is equal among both males and females.
The author discusses several relevant cases of health improvements in Bangladesh, exploring why the country has made such major strides in its development. For instance, Richard Smith explains the role of factors such as education, research, cultural sensitivity, social science and female empowerment in the usage of oral re-hydration treatment (ORT) to treat roughly 80% of cases of childhood diarrhea, the highest rate in the world. Lessons such as these has helped Bangladesh work towards becoming a middle-income country within a decade. Despite all of the progress, there are still obstacles that Bangladesh has yet to overcome; among the issues are a moderately high maternal mortality rate, security, child marriage and loss of land due to climate change.
For more details and an in-depth analysis, please read the blog post on BMJ.com.