A local development organization named Solidarity organized the launching event of the District Health Rights Forum on 21 September 2021 in the conference room of the Civil Surgeon of Kurigram District in collaboration with Bangladesh Health Watch. On the same day, a formation and orientation meeting of the District Health Rights Youth Forum was also held. At both events, guests and participants expressed commitment to initiate a collective initiative in improving the quality of healthcare in the district.
The launching event of the District Health Rights Forum was presided over by Dr. S. M. Aminul Islam Bablu, President of the forum and former Civil Surgeon of Kurigram. Dr. Md. Habibur Rahman, Civil Surgeon of Kurigram was present as the Chief Guest, and Special Guests were Dr. Md. Shahidullah Lincoln, Superintendent, Kurigram Sadar Hospital; Dr. Md. Nazrul Islam, Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer, Kurigram sadr; Dr. Subhash Chandra Sarkar, Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer, Ulipur Upazila. The event was attended by forum members, journalists, and civil society representatives.
In his welcome speech, Solidarity Executive Director S. M. Harun Or Rashid Lal said that public participation in the health system and improving the quality of services is the need to ensure our state’s commitment to ‘Health for All’. He said the civic forum would work based on cooperation with government healthcare providers as a peoples’ initiative to identify and solve problems locally. Swapan Sarkar Bhakat, Vice-President of the District Health Rights Forum, provided information on various programs already undertaken by the forum. Rajesh Adhikari, Program Officer, Bangladesh Health Watch, discussed about Bangladesh Health Watch and District Health Rights Forum.
In the discussion, the participants mentioned the achievements of the health sector in Bangladesh as well as highlighted the needful work in the future. They mentioned, with the support of Bangladesh Health Watch, the Health Rights Forum will work as a local civic organization in the Kurigram district, Ulipur Upazila, and Hahiya Union. It will play a role in creating public awareness, involving the youth, and building effective coordination with the service providers.
The Chief Guest said that the District Health Rights Forum would play a unique role in creating a conducive environment for sustainable development in healthcare by ensuring the right to health at the local level, raising public awareness, transparency, accountability, and public participation at all levels. Kamala Rani Pal and Ratna Ahmed of Solidarity facilitated the program.
Besides research and policy advocacy at the national level, Bangladesh Health Watch is building Regional Chapters in eight districts of eight divisions of the country. A civic movement is being formed at the district, upazila, and union level to improve the quality of healthcare at the district, upazila, and union levels under the leadership of local social activists, concerned citizens, and youth volunteers. Launching the Kurigram Regional Chapter is part of the program.