The country's healthcare programmes for mothers and children played a significant role in improving height, cognition and educational attainment of children in their early and late childhood, said a recent study.
When children grew older, many of the effects including their height was sustained, but their cognition did not improve, the study said, suggesting the government puts emphasis on continuation of cognitive development.
The study was prepared based on the effects of a maternity, child health and family planning programme undertaken in Chandpur's Matlab area 35 years ago. It was launched in 1977. The findings of the study were revealed at the Development Economic Conference 2018, jointly organised by Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) and International Growth Centre (IGC) at Brac Centre in Dhaka.
Several faculty members of different universities from home and abroad, including Dhaka University and Yale University, took part in the daylong conference.
“Improving health and nutrition of young children is important not only for immediate well-being, but also because it is believed to reduce poverty in the long-run through improved human capital,” said Gisella A Kagy, a professor of Vassar College in USA, while presenting the study findings.
Speaking at the conference, Prof Abul Kalam Azad, director general at the Directorate General of Health Services, sought increased government funds in the health sector.
Sultan Hafeez Rahman, country director of IGC Bangladesh and also the executive director of BIGD; Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, vice-chairperson of Brac; and Ruchira Naved, senior scientist of International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, also spoke.