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Monday, 28 February, 2000, 12:25 GMT
Bangladesh healthcare crisis

poor woman cooking
Many Bangladeshis are denied access to modern healthcare


By David Chazan in Dhaka

The World Bank says more than 60% of Bangladeshis, about 80m people, have no access to modern health services other than immunisation and family planning.

In a new report, the bank also says malnutrition and deaths of women from childbirth are among the highest in the world.

The report has some dismal statistics

It says two thirds of children under five are under-nourished.

About 60% of children under six are stunted.

And more than a third of new born babies weigh less than they should.

Government action

The government says it plans to open 13,000 community clinics around the country but there are few doctors to staff them.

malnourished child The report: Malnutrition is widespread
Health Minister Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim says the government is trying to recruit 1,000 more doctors to improve the health care on offer.

But foreign aid donors say improving health care in Bangladesh will be an enormous task.

Birth control programmes have been successful but Bangladesh is still the world's most densely populated country.

The population is expected to double to 250 million by the year 2035.

And it is feared that HIV and Aids will reach epidemic proportions in the next few years.

Challenges ahead

But it will take more than just health care to increase life expectancy.

A large percentage of people drink water containing arsenic that occurs naturally in the soil which substantially increases the risk of cancer.

And Bangladesh has the world's highest death rate from road accidents.
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See also:
07 Dec 99 |  Health
Zinc can combat childhood killers
15 Dec 99 |  South Asia
India launches Aids action plan
23 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Dhaka police clash with slum dwellers
23 Feb 00 |  World
Call to help world's lone children

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