Bangladesh Urban Health Survey Results Shared at International Conference on Urban Health
Bangladesh is undergoing a rapid urbanization process. According to United Nations estimates, while the rural population is expected to peak at 105 million people in 2016 and then decline, the urban population will grow from its current level of 54 million people to 81.4 million in 2029, an increase of 50% in 14 years (Figure 1). Starting in 2016, all future population growth in the country is expected to occur in urban areas. Though it is largely a rural country now, Bangladesh will transform into an urban country by 2039.
The first Urban Health Survey was conducted in 2006. It included separate sampling domains for slums and non-slum areas within City Corporations to identify the health challenges and use of services of different subpopulations of the cities. The Urban Health Survey 2013 (UHS 2013) aimed to determine the changes in the health and service utilization profile of the urban population, with explicit attention to examining whether the differences between slum and non-slum groups have narrowed since the 2006 survey.
Importantly, the 2013 study findings showed a considerable improvement in the living conditions of slum dwellers in terms of housing structures and household possessions. Access to electricity is now universal, while access to improved water sources and sanitation facilities has improved considerably since the 2006 survey. However, sharing of water and sanitation facilities remains high particularly in slum areas, a key issue for urban planning and health.
Findings also showed that as economic conditions are improving, urban dwellers show a preference for using and paying for NGO and private healthcare providers. The range of healthcare providers is expanding as the government is increasingly outsourcing some health services to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Recent decades have seen a boom in the private health sector in the form of growing numbers of clinics, diagnostics centers, and hospitals.
While high levels of contraceptive use have been achieved in slums and non-slum, large differentials persist in use of maternal and child healthcare. Quality of care and affordability remain among the factors hindering the use of maternal services among the urban poor, but recent efforts by the NGO sector have brought about encouraging changes.
The UHS 2013 was conducted under the general coordination of Bangladesh’s National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT). A Technical Working Group, composed of representatives from NIPORT; USAID; the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (iccdr,b); and MEASURE Evaluation, developed the survey objectives and scope and oversaw all phases of survey implementation. The UHS 2013 is intended to serve the programmatic and information needs of the Government of Bangladesh, development partners, and other organizations working to improve urban health and promote well-being of people living in urban areas.