Community-based approaches and partnerships: Innovations in health-service delivery in Bangladesh

Shams El Arifeen, Aliki Christou, Laura Reichenbach, Ferdous Arfina Osman, Kishwar Azad, Khaled Shamsul Islam, Faruque Ahmed, Henry B. Perry, David H. Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


In Bangladesh, rapid advancements in coverage of many health interventions have coincided with impressive reductions in fertility and rates of maternal, infant, and childhood mortality. These advances, which have taken place despite such challenges as widespread poverty, political instability, and frequent natural disasters, warrant careful analysis of Bangladesh's approach to health-service delivery in the past four decades. With reference to success stories, we explore strategies in health-service delivery that have maximised reach and improved health outcomes. We identify three distinctive features that have enabled Bangladesh to improve health-service coverage and health outcomes: (1) experimentation with, and widespread application of, large-scale community-based approaches, especially investment in community health workers using a doorstep delivery approach; (2) experimentation with informal and contractual partnership arrangements that capitalise on the ability of non-governmental organisations to generate community trust, reach the most deprived populations, and address service gaps; and (3) rapid adoption of context-specifi c innovative technologies and policies that identify country-specifi c systems and mechanisms. Continued development of innovative, community-based strategies of health-service delivery, and adaptation of new technologies, are needed to address neglected and emerging health challenges, such as increasing access to skilled birth attendance, improvement of coverage of antenatal care and of nutritional status, the eff ects of climate change, and chronic disease. Past experience should guide future eff orts to address rising public health concerns for Bangladesh and other underdeveloped countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2012-2026
Number of pages15
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number9909
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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