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Future Health Systems is a research consortium working to improve access, affordability and quality of health services for the poor. We are a partnership of leading research institutes from across the globe working in a variety of contexts: in low-income countries (Bangladesh, Uganda), middle-income countries (China, India) and fragile states (Afghanistan) to build resilient health systems for the future. After a successful first five-year phase from 2006-2011 (see our success stories), we are entering a new six-year phase of research, funded mainly by UK aid.

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FHS Bangladesh launch new book: Doctoring the village doctors

Future Health Systems

Experts gather at ICDDR,B for the launch of the book Doctoring the Village Doctor

FHS Bangladesh partner, ICDDR,B, have recently released a new book chronicling their experience working with village doctors in rural Bangladesh to improve care for the poor. Entitled, Doctoring the Village Doctors: Giving Attention Where it is Due, it has been welcomed by experts as an important contribution to an underexplored area.

Bangladesh faces an estimated shortage of 60,000 physicians, 280,000 nurses and 483,000 technologists, according to the Bangladesh Health Watch. Poorly trained ‘informal’ providers known as village doctors usually fill that gap – especially in rural areas.

In efforts to improve the overall health system of the country, these informal providers are often overlooked. But ICDDR,B has been working with village doctors in Chakaria for several years now to help improve these services. They’ve implemented a range of interventions, including the establishment of a franchise of doctors known as ShastyaSena. And they’ve seen some improvement, but perhaps less than they had hoped.

According to Hilary Standing, Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Development Studies,

The authors lay out the results and the challenges that the intervention brought in trying to improve basic health care provision for the rural poor. They are candid about its limitations and successes and they outline the next exciting steps that are being take to build on the lessons from this round of intervention.

The book was launched last month at an event organised at ICDDR,B with the Center for Health Market Innovations. The event brought together lessons from several studies on the role of informal providers in health service provision in India, Nigeria and Bangladesh. The book was also recently reviewed by Bangladesh’s largest English-language newspaper, The Daily Star.

Hardcopies of the book are available from ICDDR,B in Dhaka for BDT350.00. Online copies are available free of charge.