High-quality healthcare services in rural areas

Achieving Sustainability Towards Healthcare Access (ASTHA) aims at contributing to the development and expansion of sustainable and high-quality healthcare at the community level by training young adults (50% women) from seven rural districts as skilled health workers. The ASTHA-project improves the health and living conditions of the local population and, at the same time, addresses the problem of the high number of un- and underemployed youth in Bangladesh. 
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Nilphamari
25.943674
88.866156
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Sunamganj
25.059394
91.401355
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Patuakhali
22.357842
90.333032
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Lalmonirhat
25.9923398
89.28472510000002
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Rangpur
25.7438916
89.275227
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Sylhet 
24.8949294
91.8687063
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Barguna 
22.0952915
90.11206960000001
Project duration
2019 - 2024

Bangladesh suffers from both a shortage and geographic maldistribution of Human Resources for Health. There are only 8.3 health professionals per 10 000 population in Bangladesh, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 44.5 skilled health professionals per 10 000 population. The availability of primary healthcare services and skilled healthcare professionals is very limited in rural areas in particular.

The project

ASTHA, formerly known as TARSAN, started in 2011 to address this gap in Bangladesh’s health sector. 
As a result of the project’s previous efforts, the Community Paramedic Training Programme is now an established professional training offered by private and public training institutes and governed by the Bangladesh Nursing and Midwifery Council under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Young men and women acquire medical knowledge and specialised competence in the two-year course for Community Paramedics. Apart from theoretical training with a strong focus on mother-child health, they complete a six-month internship in a hospital. This qualifies them for diagnosis and treatment of frequently occurring diseases that are not complex. Moreover, the graduates are able to provide professional support during pregnancies and assistance at births.

ASTHA is currently in its second four-year project phase (2019-2022). The project works in the four areas:

•    Strengthening Capacity of Community Paramedic Training Institutes in the areas of delivering trainings, marketing, and organisational management.
•    Enhancing Capacity and Service Provision of Community Paramedics to develop, promote and retain quality primary healthcare services in underserved rural areas.
•    Raising awareness on Community Paramedics and their High-Quality Services in the rural communities
•    Sensitising Public and Private Agents to advocate and promote the Community Paramedic Programme at a national scale.

ASTHA Phase II (2019 – 2022) is being implemented in seven districts of Bangladesh: Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat and Rangpur in the north, Sunamganj and Sylhet in the north-east and Barguna and Patuakhali in the south.

Project Goals (2019-2022)

  • 638 participants (at least 50% women) complete the 2-year training.
  • 370 Community Paramedics are self-employed, or salary employed
  • 270 000 community people are informed about the Community Paramedics and their services in their neighbourhood
  • 183 250 community people accessed improved healthcare services

Project partners

  • Bangladesh Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  • Community Paramedic Training Institutes
  • Alliance of Community Paramedic training institutes
  • Local NGOs
  • Grameen Telecom Trust
  • Auleek Limited

Results

Results until December 2020:

  • 101 Community Paramedics (65% women) graduated (2020 numbers are not yet available).
  • 166 Community Paramedics (57% women) are self-employed (96), or salary employed (70).
  • Around 140 000 rural residents (68% women) became aware of better healthcare practices and Community Paramedics working in their vicinity.
  • Around 95 500 rural community residents (59% women) received healthcare services from Community Paramedics.

Results previous phase 2015-2018

  • 363 (178 women) young adults completed the 2-year training course to become community paramedic.
  • 255 or 70% of young men and women from the project are employed Community Paramedics and 80% of them could increase their income.
  • 11 local training institutes offer high quality medical training and have improved their management practices and financial management procedures.
  • 20 faculty staff (8 women, 12 men) from 10 training institutes have been trained on the revised Community Paramedic curriculum and basic training & facilitation skills.
  • Over 180 000 people in the project districts were informed about the healthcare services and about 83 000 have used the local community paramedics as qualified healthcare provider.

Financing partners

This project is financed by Novartis, the Evi Diethelm Winteler Stiftung, the Laguna Foundation, the Leopold Bachmann Stiftung, among other donors. As part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, it is co-financed by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA).

Videos for Community Paramedics

General service guideline in the time of Covid-19
(in Bengali)
COVID Symptoms
(in Bengali)

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News

Bangladesh
16.03.2021
ASTHA provides IT Equipment to the Training Institutes
ASTHA distributed IT equipment and teaching aid to 23 Community Paramedic Training Institutes
Bangladesh
Initial vocational education and training
28.12.2020
Community Paramedics fight COVID-19
“As a Community Paramedic, my duty is to stand beside people. I feel very good about being engaged in this healthcare profession and being able to serve people.”
Bangladesh
Initial vocational education and training
26.10.2020
ASTHA resumes field activities after lockdown
After around six struggling months, the project 'Achieving Sustainability Towards Healthcare Access' (ASTHA) is now gradually resuming its usual field activities from September 2020 by ensuring all necessary safety protocols.