Inside Thought

Saima's debut as regional head of the World Health Organization is a Glory of health sector and Bangladesh is proud

Publish: 07:38 PM, 31 Jan, 2024


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On February 1, Saima Wazed took on the role of Regional Director for South-East Asia at the World Health Organization (WHO). Last year, on November 1, elections were held for the position of Regional Director for South-East Asia among the 11 member states. Among these, 10 countries exercise voting rights, as Myanmar's membership is suspended, and they could not participate in the voting. Out of the 10 countries, all eight nations cast their votes in favour of Saima from Bangladesh. On January 23, during the World Health Organization's Board meeting, Saima's appointment as the Regional Director was approved. For the next five years, Saima will be responsible for overseeing the WHO's activities in the South-East Asia region.

Many intellectuals may think that she has been anointed for this position because she is the daughter of the Prime Minister. I would like to briefly address the three questions of critics. Firstly, at 52 years of age, he became the first Bangladeshi regional director in the history of this position. Saima, the first Bengali who took on the role of policy maker for the World Health Organization, not only for the World Health Organization but also for any United Nations agency. So, this is a matter of great pride.

Secondly, the acquisition of this position by Saima is undoubtedly an acknowledgment of her work. It is a recognition of her contribution. However, simultaneously, it is an achievement for Bangladesh. Nations voted to endorse her candidacy for the position in the World Health Organization. A candidate is chosen who is esteemed in her field and recognized internationally for her work. The Bangladesh government appropriately endorsed Saima for the position of Regional Director in the World Health Organization. There was no one more qualified from Bangladesh for this position than Saima.

Thirdly, those who have minimum knowledge about the World Health Organization and the United Nations system know that to be selected for such positions, one needs one's own intelligence, qualifications, and expertise. Being the Prime Minister's daughter is not a subject for consideration here. Over the past decade, Saima Wazed has been working in various fields of health for more than a considerable amount of time. However, her most significant area of work is mental health and autism. Saima has brought this sensitive health issue to the forefront both nationally and internationally. She has broken the silence and neglect of policymakers on this issue. Saima served as the Chairperson of the Bangladesh National Advisory Committee on Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Autism. She was an advisor on mental health and autism to the Director-General of the World Health Organization. In Bangladesh, she plays a crucial role in the implementation of the Neurodevelopmental Disability Protection Trust Act of 2013. Additionally, she has contributed significantly to the Mental Health Act of 2018, the National Mental Health Policy 2022, and the Mental Health Skills Curriculum 2020-2025. Saima has illuminated the path through her work, not merely as the Prime Minister's daughter but by her own efforts.

Why Saima's inauguration as WHO Regional Director is important for Bangladesh and why we should be proud of it. For Bangladesh, this achievement carries special significance for five reasons.

Firstly, in the global context, Bangladesh holds a significant position as a modern, developed, and progressive nation in this era of globalization. One notable benchmark is the presence and representation of its citizens on the international stage. Since the 1980s, Indians have systematically planned to actively engage in various international organizations, demonstrating a well-thought-out strategy. In the field of providing advanced education to the talented individuals, there has been encouragement and support. Indians have embraced a systematic plan known as "Brain Diplomacy" to ensure their participation in various international organizations, including the United Nations and global corporate giants. India has gained recognition as one of the largest democratic nations globally. The country is currently reaping the benefits of its skilled workforce. Indians hold prominent positions in nearly all international organizations, reflecting the success of their strategic approach. In the current era of globalization, institutions such as the World Bank, IMF (International Monetary Fund), and ADB (Asian Development Bank) are actively functioning under Indian leadership. As a result, India's influence has grown on the global stage. During this era of international engagement, India has effectively safeguarded its interests on various issues. However, the Father of the Nation had initiated efforts towards the creation of an independent and capable Bangladesh immediately after the attainment of independence. He had entered into agreements for scholarships with the former Soviet Union and Germany. He also sent numerous talented young doctors and lawyers to the United Kingdom for higher education. However, after August 15, 1975, investment in education comes to a halt. Bangladesh continues to lag behind, recognized globally as a country of unskilled laborers. Those engaged solely in manual labor face a difficult fate. Consequently, even after 52 years, Bangladesh lacks a presence in global policy-making. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a visionary leader, is walking the path shown by the Father of the Nation. She strives to provide advanced education to the meritorious and enhance their international exposure so that they can contribute to the nation's development. A significant achievement of these efforts is the election of Saima as the Regional Director of the World Health Organization. As a result, Bangladesh's prestige will rise globally.

Secondly, in the international arena, Saima's election and responsibility will play a crucial role in ensuring Bangladesh's self-interest security. The policies and decisions on global health determined by the World Health Organization will undoubtedly be observed by Saima in the context of securing Bangladesh's interests. In many areas, Bangladesh can excel.

Thirdly, the story of achievement in Bangladesh will now spread globally: For a long time, no one in Bangladesh has been at the policy-making level in the World Health Organization. Many success stories in Bangladesh were therefore somewhat unknown. The new research of BMRC, the success of community clinics, or the achievements in specialized health services were challenging to showcase internationally. But now, the world will easily learn about these success stories of Bangladesh for health. It will bring new dimensions and inspiration to our health sector.

"Fourthly, there will be an increase in international assistance in the health sector: Bangladesh has made significant progress in the field of health. However, there is still a long way to go. The demand for allocation in the health sector in Bangladesh is much lower compared to the achievements. To make Bangladesh's overall health system globally recognized, investment is necessary. However, this investment is not possible by the government alone, and international assistance is needed for this. Taking on this responsibility, Saima will assist Bangladesh in obtaining international aid.

Fifthly, talented youth will thrive: Saima's inauguration in a policy-making position at the World Health Organization will inspire millions of youth in Bangladesh. Saima will be their inspiration. The talented youth will find courage. I believe that on the path shown by Saima, many Bangladeshi youths will illuminate the international stage in the near future.



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Inside Thought

All the achievements of Bangladesh since 1981 are the achievements of Sheikh Hasina

Publish: 09:13 AM, 16 May, 2024


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From May 17, 1981, to May 17, 2023, in the span of these 42 years, Bangladesh has seen a singular journey led by Philosophical Statesperson Sheikh Hasina. Throughout these 42 years, Bangladeshi politics, economy, and social development have revolved around one figure, Sheikh Hasina. The main protagonist of Bangladesh's aspirations and struggles in these 42 years has been the Philosophical Statesperson Sheikh Hasina. And those who opposed independence and were the defeated forces of '71 and '75, have emerged as new villains in the history of these 42 years. The Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had a specific goal in liberating Bangladesh. He aspired for a hunger-free, poverty-free, and non-communal progressive Bangladesh. We call it the Sonar Bangla in one word. On March 7th, the Father of the Nation spoke about two things. One was the struggle for independence, and the other was the struggle for liberation. Through the victory on December 16, 1971, we achieved our independence. We obtained the territory of Bangladesh. We earned the flag soaked in blood. And from January 10, 1972, began the struggle for liberation in Bangladesh. Bangabandhu had several short-term, medium-term, and long-term plans towards the reconstruction of Sonar Bangla. But on August 15, 1975, the Father of the Nation was brutally assassinated with his family. It was not just one President or the Father of the Nation who was killed, but rather our dream was assassinated. Bangladesh was essentially murdered. And that's why I consider May 17, 1981, as the declaration of the second liberation war of Bangladesh. Bangladesh had transformed into a dependent, subordinate, and despair-ridden failed state since 1975. Until the beginning of 1996, Bangladesh was established as a failed state, and those in power tried various means to establish it. And visionary stateswoman Sheikh Hasina, since returning to the country on May 17, 1981, initiated the struggle that became known as the Restoration of Sonar Bangla. It was a struggle to establish the consciousness of the Liberation War, the struggle to establish human rights. And the path to this struggle was not easy. She had to be fight in every moment and at every step.

In these 42 years, everything Bangladesh has achieved, its accomplishments, its character, everything is a testament to the philosophical statesperson Sheikh Hasina. She has taken Bangladesh to a place in these 42 years where Bangladesh signifies Sheikh Hasina. Without Sheikh Hasina, it is unimaginable to think of Bangladesh now. And here lies the rationality, the significance of Sheikh Hasina's initiative. In 1981, when she came to Bangladesh, what was Bangladesh like? There was curfew at night, thousands of people were in jail, people were being killed without trial. Basic human rights of people were absent. The Constitution was being shredded and distorted. Extrajudicial killings were rampant. And it was for this reason that Sheikh Hasina, the philosophical statesperson, upon returning to her homeland, initiated the struggle for the rights of the people. In the journey of that struggle, she called for the downfall of autocracy. Under her leadership, the main movement for democracy in Bangladesh took shape. It was through this movement that we bid farewell to autocracy. However, even after a democratically elected government took power, attempts were made to undermine the people's right to vote in 1991. Once again, the black mark fell upon the fundamental human rights of the people. It was at this time that the visionary statesperson Sheikh Hasina initiated a new movement. In 1996, she brought the Bangladesh Awami League, the leading party in the Liberation War, to power after 21 years. From there began the transformation of Bangladesh, spearheaded by Sheikh Hasina. The initiatives taken by Sheikh Hasina were not limited to just infrastructure or governance responsibilities. If we analyze her tenure from 1996 to 2001, we will see that through thousands of initiatives like My House, My Farm, Ashrayan, community clinics, elderly allowances, widow allowances, and many more, she has ensured the establishment of an equal right in terms of development just as he sang the song of liberating discrimination. Most importantly, she has aimed to establish the empowerment of the people.

The Sheikh Hasina Initiative is not just for community clinics. The Sheikh Hasina Initiative is for Bangladesh. And by approving the Community Clinic as the Sheikh Hasina Initiative, the United Nations has clarified a matter: that she is an unparalleled leader, a global leader. There is no equivalent leader in the world at this moment. No head of government has been recognized by the United Nations in this way. The United Nations had received two proposals from Sheikh Hasina. The first was in 2012, where she was unanimously accepted for her vision of peace and empowerment of the people. And in 2023, the Community Clinic was accepted as part of the Sheikh Hasina Initiative. We can easily assume how much intellectual, visionary, and wise a statesman should be for her vision to be embraced at a global forum. Therefore, on May 17, the day of the return of our homeland's leader Sheikh Hasina, our main responsibility will be to awaken, manage, and implement the Sheikh Hasina Initiative, starting from the grassroots to the highest echelons, to realize the Sheikh Hasina Initiative in its true sense. Only then can we see a truly developed Bangladesh, the Bangladesh envisioned by the Father of the Nation and the humble philosopher-statesman Sheikh Hasina.



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Inside Thought

Sheikh Hasina is the architect of this changing Bangladesh


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On the 15th of August, 1975, the nation was directionless in the aftermath of the tragic event. In this infernal incident, people were left bewildered. There was no courage to protest or resist. Many prominent leaders of the party were duty-bound but misguided. The house at Dhanmondi 32 were silent as graves. The entire nation was then engulfed in darkness. Military boots trampled over democracy. The constitution and people's fundamental rights were displaced by exile. Even the mention of Bangabandhu's name was prohibited. At that time, neither the contemporary radio nor television dared to utter Bangabandhu's name. The country was led astray.

The Bangladesh that was born in 1971 was lost by 1975. Throughout the country, there was only despair and disbelief. Six years after being in exile, the leader Sheikh Hasina returned to her homeland Bangladesh on May 17, 1981, without fear or hesitation, leaving behind many risks and keeping her family members abroad.

When she returned to the country, an unprecedented scene unfolded. I still vividly remember how people were ecstatic and elated upon seeing her. Their eyes were filled with joy. She came as a beacon of hope, bringing with her the flicker of light. She emerged as the symbol of everyone's hopes and aspirations, the epitome of trustworthiness. She stood as the address of credibility when the corridors of power were plagued with mistrust. The path of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was not easy upon coming to power in the country. It wasn't smooth, nor was it without challenges. However, she, disregarding all obstacles and adversities, established Bangladesh as a progressive and self-reliant nation through her intelligence, skill, dedication, integrity, competence, wisdom, creativity, and visionary leadership in the broad democratic perspective. The people regain all their rights. By the boundless grace of Allah, we have found a leader in Sheikh Hasina. Just as Bangabandhu created Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina has transformed it. As long as Bangladesh remains in the hands of Sheikh Hasina, the country will not lose its way. 



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Inside Thought

Sheikh Hasina, the home of 18 crore people


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In 1781, amidst the treacherous betrayal by Mir Jafar, one of the most detested generals in history, Bengal bid farewell to Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah, marking the onset of a 200-year-long colonial subjugation. Though India gained independence in 1947, Bengalis and Bangladeshis did not taste freedom. Then Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation, emerged as a hero and beacon of hope for all the Bengalis. From 1971 to the '75, the crimson flag of independence soared high, igniting the hearts of Bengalis with hope. Yet, the modern-day Mir Jafars, by assassinating the father of the nation, clouded the consciousness of independence. Fortunately, Bangabandhu's privileged daughters Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana survived because they were abroad. Despite not committing any injustice, they were obstructed from returning to Bangladesh. Due to the military ruler and governance, she had to bear the burden of exile. But the helpless, elderly, and oppressed people of the country, can gauge the authentic affection of Sheikh Hasina through the barometer of their hearts.

Hence, Sheikh Hasina's return to the country on May 17, 1981, brought a beacon of hope to the nation's people. The wheel of development of Bengalis' destiny is now moving rapidly in the right direction towards the right destination. On May 17, 1981, the day she set foot on the soil of Bengal, her path was somewhat thorny. Even an ordinary citizen had the right to enter their own home, their father's home. But Sheikh Hasina's right was curtailed. On May 17, 1981, upon setting foot on the soil of her homeland, Sheikh Hasina had two files on her heart's table. One file contained the tragic tale of the loss of her father, along with other family members, on August 15, 1975, and the subsequent trials. The other file depicted the realization of Bangabandhu's dream—the development of a golden Bengal and the progress of the Bengali nation. If Sheikh Hasina hadn't returned to the country on May 17, 1981, the destiny of the Bengali nation would never have seen the light; it would have lingered in perpetual darkness. That's why the people of Bengal hold onto a slogan: “Sheikh Hasina, the home of 18 crore people



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Inside Thought

Today, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cannot be sidelined by the global community


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Today, we are talking about May 17th, the day when the honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned to her homeland. Again, last year on this day, the brain child of Sheikh Hasina, the Community Clinic was recognized by the United Nations as 'The Sheikh Hasina Initiative'. Today, we are talking about Digital Bangladesh, we are talking about the developed Bangladesh, we are talking about the smart Bangladesh that we dream of, the dream of an advanced Bangladesh, all of these are the Sheikh Hasina initiative.

We want to remember the day she returned to the country, a day of eager anticipation for all Bengalis. People welcomed Bangabandhu's daughter without any reservations on that day. However, on that day, she couldn't enter her house at 32 Dhanmondi. She wanted to observe Milad, wanted to enter her house, but she couldn't. Despite facing so much injustice and obstacles, today she has not only become the leader of Bangladesh but has also transformed into a global leader. Today, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cannot be sidelined by the global community. Even if some fail to recognize the importance of a Prime Minister in Bangladesh, they cannot ignore Sheikh Hasina. Because she is Sheikh Hasina, she is Bangabandhu's daughter. The development of Bangladesh under her leadership, the dreams she holds, is a wonder to all. Today, even Pakistanis say, "Let us make Bangladesh."

After coming to power in 1996, Sheikh Hasina established community clinics to deliver health services to the people's doorsteps. An initiative like the Community Clinic was never thought of. It was completely Sheikh Hasina's idea. But with the change of government, the BNP-Jamaat alliance came to power and closed the community clinic. With the closure of community clinics, the rural people was deprived of primary healthcare. Upon returning to power, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina restarted these clinics. The United Nations has taken it as a model and has endorsed it as 'The Sheikh Hasina Initiative'. Today, it is understood how much of an innovation it actually was. Sheikh Hasina's initiative is now desired to be followed by other countries. 



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Inside Thought

Community Clinic is the 'Light House' for people seeking primary health care


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Community clinics serve as an indispensable, unique, and transformative model for delivering healthcare services, especially to underserved rural communities. They represent an exceptional initiative in providing healthcare services to children, maternal health, and adolescents. The community clinic model has begun to be emulated in various countries worldwide, particularly in reducing neonatal and maternal mortality rates. On May 17 last year, community clinics received recognition as "The Sheikh Hasina Initiative" by the United Nations.


The "Community Clinic" stands as a beacon of hope for the masses aspiring for primary healthcare services. In a short span, the community clinic has transformed into a vital institution for deprived individuals. The coalition government of BNP-Jamaat closed down community clinics upon assuming power. In 2009, with massive public support, the Philosophical Statesperson Sheikh Hasina formed the government again. To ensure no future setbacks for community clinics, Sheikh Hasina has involved the people with this institution. Currently, the 'lighthouse' of health services is being built through partnership. where the people provide the land, and the government builds the infrastructure. The entire operation of the community clinic is being managed digitally. The Prime Minister's initiative means a smart initiative. The innovation of Sheikh Hasina translates to people-centric programs. Community clinics are reshaping rural demographics. In building a Smart Bangladesh, community clinics play a crucial role.



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