WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 93-99

Maintaining essential health services during the pandemic in Bangladesh: the role of primary health care supported by routine health information system

1 World Health Organization, Country Office, Dhaka, Bangladesh
2 Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Dhaka, Bangladesh
3 World Health Organization, South-East Asia Regional Office, Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Ms Sangay Wangmo
World Health Organization, Country Office, Dhaka
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DOI: 10.4103/2224-3151.309884

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In the initial phase of the coronavirus disease 2019 crisis, Bangladesh’s health systems faced competing demands to respond to the pandemic and concurrently maintain the continuity of essential health service delivery, particularly at the primary care level. Bangladesh’s established network of primary care health facilities, the country’s backbone for delivering essential health services, routinely feed data into the national health information system, the District Health Information Software 2 platform, which provides near real-time data on the utilization of essential health services, visualized through user-friendly integrated dashboards. Trend analyses of these data showed that by April and May 2020 there had been sharp reductions in the utilization of key essential health services across all levels of care. Early and continuous monitoring and analysis of these data informed public health policy-makers and health facility managers on rapid response strategies to restore the availability and use of essential health services. Through corrective policy measures and targeted interventions, Bangladesh’s primary health care network provided a critical platform for Bangladesh to build back most of its essential health services by October 2020. Bangladesh’s experience highlights the critical role of primary-level health facilities as a touchpoint for monitoring population access to services and as a staging point for implementation of strategies and interventions that rebuild and strengthen health service delivery towards achieving universal health coverage and more resilient health systems.

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