Bangladesh is a densely populated country where about 75% of the population lives in rural areas. Limited access to quality healthcare is one of the major problems faced by the people in rural Bangladesh. There is an acute shortage of skilled healthcare service providers in remote locations as there are only 0.58 qualified health workers per 1,000 populations (WHO standard 2.5 per 1,000 populations). Neonatal mortality is as high as 32 per 1,000 live births. Only 22% of the children receive appropriate care within 24 hours after birth. 76.6% of births still take place at home. Although the government has a wide spread network of service delivery facilities, they are not enough for this highly populated region.
In an effort to address this major gap in the national healthcare system, the Government of Bangladesh introduced a mid-level healthcare workforce named Community Paramedics (CPs). In such a context, European Union and Novartis funded project- 'Towards Sustainable Quality Healthcare Delivery at Grassroots Level through Active Participation of Civil Society Organisations' (TARSAN) - Mar 2011 - Feb 2015 - was initiated to help create access to quality healthcare services, and improve retention of healthcare workers in the rural communities through continuous policy dialogues.
Building on TARSAN's achievements, the project- Improving Rural Healthcare Service through Community Paramedic Programme, branded as ASTHA (January 2015 - December 2018), has been designed to continue with the development and integration of community paramedic services in Nilphamari, Patuakhali, and Sunamganj. Its focus will be to increase medical healthcare outreach in rural areas of Bangladesh, with special attention to Maternal and Child Health (MCH), Family Planning (FP) and Basic Primary Health Care Services. To achieve this, ASTHA targets the following interventions:
By the end of the project phase (01 January 2015 - 31 December 2018), the following results are expected:
2017 - 2020
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