Mizanur Rahman

Ashoka Fellow
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Fellow Since 1996


This profile was prepared when Mizanur Rahman was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Mizanur Rahman has created a new system of health care in rural Bangladesh, where the ratio of physician to population is among the lowest in Asia. In nearby Pakistan, there is one doctor per 200 people; in Bangladesh the figure is one to 12,500, and nearly all of the licensed physicians are in the cities. From time to time citizens’ organizations and the government have identified rural public health needs for which they have then trained non-degreed practitioners to implement specific responses such as oral rehydration, immunization or family planning. Preparation for these assistants is short and limited, but growing numbers move on to provide a whole range of medical services for which they have no training. There are an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 such Rural Medical Practitioners (RMPs) currently providing health care in the rural areas. No government regulations exist to monitor their practice, which is the only medical care available to most of Bangladesh’s rural poor.
Through a comprehensive training program, Mizanur is guiding the RMPs to become skilled health practitioners. His program is the first to offer in-depth training to large numbers of them, so that they have the tools to deliver high quality services and the judgment to know their limitations and refer cases beyond their scope of knowledge to certified doctors. Through post-training forums, Mizanur is also forging strategic links between the rural practitioners and government health workers, two groups whose relationship has previously been characterized more by conflict than by cooperation.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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