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General Information
Socio-Economic Background
HIV Situation
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Capital: Dhaka
Currency: Afghani
Independence: 16 December 1971
Map of Bangladesh
  Source: Govt. of Bangladesh
  * Disclaimer
  National Anthem of Bangladesh
General Information
Official Name: The People's Republic of Bangladesh
Government: Republic Parliamentary Democracy
Administrative Divisions: Six divisions: Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi and Sylhet. 64 Districts and 498 Thanas. Municipal Corporations - 4; Municipalities - 183 and Union Parishads - 4,479
Language: Islam (88.3%); Hindu (10.5%); Buddhist (0.6%); Christians (0.3%); Others (0.1%).
Political parties and leaders: Awami League or AL (Sheikh Hasina Wajed), Bangladesh Communist Party or BCP (Saifuddin Ahmed Manik), Bangladesh Nationalist Party or BNP (Khaleda Ziaur Rahman), Jamaat-E-Islami or JI (Motiur Rahman Nizam), Jatiyo Party or JP (Hussain Mohammad Ershad).
Head of State
President Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed (since 9 October 1996).
Head of Government
No Prime Minister till elections scheduled to be held on October 11.Former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed who was in office from 23 June 1996 transferred power to a care-taker government when her term expired on July 15.
Cabinet selected by the Prime Minister and appointed by the President
President elected by National Parliament for a five-year term; election last held on July 24, 1996. Following legislative elections, the leader of the party that wins majority seats is usually appointed Prime Minister by the President
Unicameral National Parliament or "Jatiya Sangsad" (330 seats; 300 elected by popular vote from single territorial constituencies, 30 seats reserved for women, members serve five-year terms)
Last held on June 12, 1996. The election brought to power an Awami League government for the first time in twenty-one years, held under a neutral, caretaker administration. The elections were characterised by a peaceful, orderly process and massive voter turnout.
Supreme Court is the apex body. The Chief Justice and other judges are appointed by the President
  • Eighth Most populous country in the world. Most densely populated country in the world. Marked urban migration, still overwhelmingly rural (76%).
  • Disaster prone and is a victim of repeated natural disasters such as cyclones, floods, droughts and earthquakes.
  • Agriculture is the mainstay of economy. Bangladesh's topography makes it highly vulnerable to devastating cyclones and floods, which, combined with high population densities, make the damage and loss of life from natural disasters high.
  • During the past two decades, urban population has grown from six million in 1974 to 24 million in 1996, about one-fifth of the country's population. By 2020, the urban population is expected to reach 80 million
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Indicators Estimate Year Source
Population ( millions)
Population growth (1991-2001)
Annual Population Growth (percent)
Population Density (per sq.km)
Sex Ratio (females per 1,000 males)
Crude Birth Rate (per 1000 population)
Crude Death Rate
Total Fertility Rate
Infant Mortality (per 1000)
Maternal Mortality Rate
Human Development Index Ranking
Literacy (Total)
                      - Males
                      - Females
Increase in literacy
People below poverty line (%)
Urban Population (%)
Growth of Urban population (annual)
Life expectancy
Per capita GNP (US $)
Population with access to proper sanitation (%)
Population with access to improved water sources (%)
Health Expenditure-Public (% of GDP)
Health Expenditure - Private (% of GDP)
Physicians per 100,000 population
Population with Access to Essential Drugs (%)
2.12000 - 2005UNFPA
980.81999World Bank
9332001World Bank
3.52000 - 2005Human Development Report - 2003
512001Human Development Report - 2003
4002001Human Development Report - 2003
1392003Human Development Report - 2003
33.72000Human Development Report - 2003
25.52001Human Development Report - 2003
61.42000 - 2005Human Development Report - 2003
482000Human Development Report - 2003
972000Human Development Report - 2003
1.52000Human Development Report - 2003
2.62000Human Development Report - 2003
202002Human Development Report - 2003
50 - 791999Human Development Report - 2003
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Socio-Economic Background
With a population of about 124 million in an area one-twentieth the size of India and about the same size as the state of Georgia in the United States, Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world, with roughly 800 people per square kilometer
Since independence in 1971, it has recorded an impressive progress in the social and economic sectors. Key indicators like birth rates, life expectancy, school enrollment of girls, and child immunization have improved remarkably and poverty has been declining. The annual economic growth rate has been five per cent during 1990-98 as against four per cent during 1984-90
The country has made consistent progress against poverty. From about 43 per cent in 1991-92, the share of very poor fell to 36 per cent in 1995-96. Percentage of the poor declined from 59 to 53 percent during the same period. However, about 40 per cent of the rural population is still poor. Though higher growth rate has resulted in declining poverty, increasing inequality has reduced the overall rate of poverty reduction. According to the World Bank, sustained economic growth, increased spending on social sectors, rising school enrollment rates, the expansion of microcredit and other NGO activities and, available sample survey data suggest that the declining trend of poverty incidence has continued into the second half of the 1990s.
The progress of Bangladesh in improving the wellbeing of its people over the past 20 years has been significant. But challenges still lie ahead in further reducing population growth rates, malnutrition, and poverty related diseases. Bangladesh has succeeded in reducing its fertility rate from more than seven births per woman in 1975 to about three births per women today. Infant mortality rates have fallen from 140 per 1,000 live births in 1970 to 73 per 1,000. Life expectancy at birth is now almost at 60 years on par for males and females compared to 43 years for females and 45 years for males in 1970. Child immunization has risen from 10 to 70 percent in just five years.
Despite rapid gains in health status, the primary health care sector is still very weak. Less than 40 percent of the population only has access to modern primary health services beyond immunization and family planning. Only 25 percent of pregnant women receive antenatal care, and someone with formal training attends only 14 percent of births. Bangladesh's maternal mortality rate of 440 deaths per 1,000 is among the highest in the world.
Though birth rates have declined, the population is expected to double to 250 million by the year 2035, even if fertility declines to a level of replacement (2.2 births per woman) by 2005.
Malnutrition also poses a tremendous burden on the population. The country continues to have one of the highest rates of malnutrition in South Asia, with nine out of ten children malnourished to some degree. Between 35 and 50 of every 100 newborns suffer from low-birth weight. Approximately, 70 percent of mothers are afflicted by nutritional deficiency and anaemia. Another perennial health challenge is the long-term effects of naturally occurring arsenic in ground water.
Recent donor-supported government interventions to tackle malnutrition and reform the health sector with the help of NGOs are beginning to show positive results, but further investments are needed to improve the health and nutrition status of the population, assesses the World Bank.
In the education sector, Bangladesh's performance has been impressive in increasing primary enrollment since the early 1990s, and, more recently, in secondary education, especially for girls, with support from donors and NGOs.
Most children now attend primary school. About half of the primary and lower secondary school students are girls. Nonetheless, about 40 percent of those enrolling in primary school drop out before completing primary education.
Bangladesh's intense population pressure has already caused severe soil and water degradation, loss of biodiversity and urban and industrial pollution. Forest depletion has greatly exceeded the natural replenishment rate. Only less than 10 per cent of Bangladesh remains under forest cover, a reduction of 50 percent over the past 20 years. Water and air pollution, caused by expanding industrialization and urban growth, are growing problems.
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HIV Situation
The information on HIV prevalence in Bangladesh is limited and available data suggests that the overall prevalence is low even among high-risk groups. However, several factors, mainly related to the country's poor socio-economic background, make the country vulnerable to the epidemic.
The data available is sporadic. In 1988-89, sero-surveillance was conducted among several groups of people, sex workers, STD patients, IDUs and antenatal clinic attendees, but no one was found to be positive. In a survey in Dhaka in 1996, 0.2 per cent of the sex workers were tested positive. However, there was no evidence of HIV infection among sex workers tested in 1997 and 1998. In the Central area, 0.4 per cent of the sex workers tested in 1998 were HIV positive.
There was no evidence of infection among STD patients in 1988-89. In 1996, 0.5 percent of patients tested in Chittagong were positive. In 1998, only zero to 0.3 per cent of patients tested positive. In northwest and northeast areas, the prevalence was zero in 1998
In 1998, 2.5 per cent of IDUs tested in the central area were positive. But no evidence of HIV prevalence was available among truck drivers. In one survey, 13% of sex workers reported having injected drugs and that there is widespread needle and syringe sharing. There is evidence of a high rate of syphilis (app. 60%) and other STDs among commercial female sex workers. The rate of condom use is low.
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13,0002001UNAIDS Global HIV/AIDS Report 2002
13,0002001UNAIDS Global HIV/AIDS Report 2002
31002001UNAIDS Global HIV/AIDS Report 2002
3102001UNAIDS Global HIV/AIDS Report 2002
6502001UNAIDS Global HIV/AIDS Report 2002
21002001UNAIDS Global HIV/AIDS Report 2002
 Estimated Number of HIV cases (Adults and children)
 Adults (15-49 years)
 Women (15-49)
 Esimated number of deaths due to AIDS
 Estimated Number of AIDS orphans
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The National Response
In view of the pandemic that started in the early 80s, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh formed a National AIDS Committee way back in 1985 for prevention & control of HIV/ AIDS. By now it has completed a Short term Plan of Action, an interim plan of Action and many other activities related to prevention and control of HIV/AIDS. The National AIDS Committee, therefore, considered the necessity for a National policy on HIV/AIDS. The Director General of Health Services, accordingly, formed a 11-member "Task Force" with the Chairman of the Technical Committee as its convener. The Technical Committee was a body of experts supervising technical aspects of HIV/AIDS and STD prevention and control. It is the technical arm of National AIDS Committee. It also provides technical support to the Coordination Committee.
In 1996, the Government of Bangladesh endorsed the National Policy on HIV/AIDS prepared by the multidisciplinary group. In November 1997, the Government issued a Plan of Action to address HIV/AIDS within the framework of the Health and Population Sector Programme. A National Strategic Plan (1997-2002) was issued by the Bangladesh AIDS Prevention and Control Programme (BAPCP) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in May 1997.The National programme has an implementation strategy and a behaviour change communication strategy. Religious leaders, students, youth leaders and community leaders have been involved in advocacy programmes.
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National Programme Manager: Dr.A.K.M.Shamsuddin, Bangladesh
Prevention of sexual transmission: Sexual transmission accounts for most of the HIV infection. Prevention of sexual transmission requires education leading to changes in sexual behaviour that reduce as much as possible the rate of transmission. Educational approaches seek to reduce the number of partners and promote the use of condoms.
Prevention of blood related transmission: Transmission of HIV through blood can be reduced or prevented by universal screening of blood and encouraging voluntary blood donation, use of sterile materials for injections, prevention of IV drug use and introduction of universal precautions in the health care setting.
Prevention of perinatal transmission: Prevention of perinatal transmission can be achieved by intensive and widespread education of the population of HIV/AIDS.
Reduction of the impact of HIV on individuals, groups and societies: Provision of appropriate counseling and care services is essential to address the psychological and other effects of HIV on both the infected persons, their relatives and the communities. Widespread education and the adoption of non-discriminatory policies are required to provide a supportive environment that will help those affected (whether infected or not) cope with the stress and burden of the situation.
In order to achieve these objectives through strategies mentioned above, the programme activities will be carried out through a 'Tripartite Coalition' among the three main functionaries.i.e., National AIDS Committee (NAC), acting as an Advisory Body, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOH&FW) as the coordinating and supreme Executive Body and, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and other ministries, directorates and agencies as the Implementing Body.
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UN Support
  • UNDP has been historically the UN agency most involved in supporting the National Response. Currently it is developing activities in the following areas:
    • Support to NAP- staff and capacity building.
    • Blood safety
    • NGO support
  • UNICEF is developing activities in the area of IEC and adolescent health with support from UNAIDS Secretariat.
  • UNFPA is actively integrating HIV/AIDS/STD in the different components of its RH programme.
  • WHO offers capacity building on programme management
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Support By Others
  • World Bank is finalizing a project (US $ 40 milllion) with close involvement of the UN agencies and other partners. The project focuses on:
    • High risk behavior change interventions
    • Advocacy and communication
    • Institutional capacity building.
  • DFID has been supporting the Shaki project of CARE which works mainly with vulnerable populations, but also provides technical and financial assistance to other NGOs. Through its regional approach, DFID seeks to sensitize policy-makers and focus on migration.
  • USAID supports Social Marketing and provides technical and financial assistance to CBOs. Two areas in which USAID has played a key role are behavioral surveillance and mapping of NGO-response to HIV in the country (in collaboration with DFID). More recently USAID has been supporting counselling training.
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Theme Group Chair: Mr. Jorgen Lissnia, UNDP Representative to Bangladesh, Dhaka.
Country Programme Adviser: Ms. Geeta Sethi.
Sher-E-Bangla Nagar, Agargaon
Dhaka - 1207
Tel: (880) 2812 4051
Fax: (880) 28113196
E-mail: geeta.sethi@undp.org
Country Status - 2001 by WHO
UN Offices
United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP)
UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
Mr. Jorgen LissnerUNDP Resident Representative
UN Offices
IDB Bhaban
E/8-A Begum Rokeya
Sher-e-Bangla Nagar
Dhaka 1207
Mail Address: UNDP Bangladesh
G.P.O.Box 224
Dhaka 1000,
People's Republic of Bangladesh
Phone: (880-2) 8118600-06,
(880-2) 8118632, (880-2) 8118637
Fax: (880-2) 813196, (880-2) 817811, (880-2) 811180
E-mail: registry.bd@undp.orgfo.bgd@undp.org
URL: www.un-bd.org/undp
Geeta Sethi
Country Programme Advisor,
Sher-E-Bangla Nagar,
Dhaka 1207
Phone: (880)2 812 4051
Fax: (880)2 811 3196
E-mail: geeta.sethi@undp.org
UNICEF (United Nations Children Fund) UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund)
P.O. Box 58
Dhaka - 1000
People's Republic of Bangladesh
E-mail: ddhaka@unicef.org
P.O. Box 224
Dhaka 1000
E-mail: registry@unfpa-bangladesh.org
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization)
UNESCO Office Dhaka
IDB Bhaban (16th Floor), E/8-A Rokeya Sharani,
Sher-e-Bangla Nagar
Dhaka-1207 Bangladesh
Mail Address: G.P.O. Box 57
1207-Dhaka Bangladesh.
Phone: 880-2-9126439
Fax: 880-2- 9123468
E-mail: dhaka@unesco.org
Dr Suniti Acharya
WHO Representative
House No. 12, Road No. 7
Dhanmondi Residential Area
Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Mail Address: G.P.O. Box No. 250
Dhaka-1250, Bangladesh
Phone: (09780) 8614653-55, 8616097-98, 509212,
Fax: 09780-8613247, 8611077
E-mail: acharyas@whoban.org
URL: www.whoban.org
ILO (International Labour Organization) WORLD BANK
ILO Area Office in Dhaka
House No.12, Road No.12,
Dhanmondi R.A.
GPO Box 2061
Phone: (+880 2) 811 47 05
Fax: (+880 2) 811 42 11
E-Mail: DHAKA@ilodhaka.org
Mr. Muhammad Abdul Mazid
3A Paribagh
G P O Box 97
Dhaka 1000
Phone: (880-2) 861056-68
Fax: (880-2) 863220
Email: mmazid@worldbank.org
URL: www.worldbank-bangladesh.org/
Sources: UN agencies, World Bank Country Brief - 2000; UNAIDS Epidemiological Fact Sheet - 2000, BAPCP and Bangladesh's Presentation at UNGASS.
* The map presented here is sourced from Govt. of Bangladesh. YouandAIDS is not liable for any dispute, other countries in the region or elsewhere in the world, organizations or individual might raise.
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