The visiting Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Thoraya A Obaid said that Bangladesh has attained progress in some sectors, but it still has many challenges to address in the health sector to become an advanced country.
She said that in population controlling, reducing child and maternal motility rate, empowerment of women, gender equality and increasing access to education and primary healthcare services Bangladesh has showed remarkable progress over the years.
Ms Thoraya told newsmen at a press conference held in Dhaka on Tuesday at the end of her three-day visit to Bangladesh that to turn Bangladesh into an advanced country, the government as well as other development partners should look into the certain matters very seriously.
She said in Bangladesh, like many other Muslim countries, the HIV/AIDS problem is very low. But she warned that there is some population groups among where it can become higher, for example the sex workers. She also added that the danger will be much higher if the information about health awareness is not be spread among the young group of people who go to the sex workers. She stressed on the need for building awareness, providing correct information on the deadly disease of HIV/AIDS among all groups of people.
In Bangladesh the first case of HIV was detected in 1989. According to a 2004 UN study, HIV infections have tripled in the last six years. UNAIDS estimated that 13,000 adults and children were living with HIV at the end of 2002. Ms Thoraya explained that the outer world knows Bangladesh by the data as well as by the information and the world community always uses Bangladesh as an example of making progress in different social sectors.
While lauding the progress Bangladesh made in girls' education, reducing the death of mothers and children and ensuring good primary health system. She warned that, this does not mean that Bangladesh does not have challenges, she stated that it still has many challenges to go to meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) as adopted in the general assembly by the year 2015.
An official statistics says an estimated 14,000 Bangladeshi women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth each year. Regarding the role of UNFPA in the country she explained that UNFPA is working with the Bangladeshi government and other development partners to improve safe motherhood. She also said that the UNFPA is working to increase the number of skilled birth attendant from 1, 500 to 13,000 by the end of 2020.
Commenting on the population, Thoraya said that the issue was a big success of Bangladesh; the UNFPA executive said the Bangladeshi women now want to have less children. Some 30 years ago a prospective mother had wanted six to seven children that came down to two at present she said.
The demographic and health survey shows that although the Bangladeshi women now want fewer children. Of all the least developed countries, Bangladesh has the highest population density. The current population is 140 million and if trends stay the same as today, another 70 million people will be added in next 45 years. Thoraya urged the government to ensure necessary reproductive and family planning services so that the women can be able to plan their life.