Fellow Since 2001
This profile was prepared when Zahed Masud was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Zahed, who is a doctor, sees that the cost of health care is prohibitively high for middle-income or poor Bangladeshis, forcing many patients to make desperate choices, often between prescription drugs and food on the table. To lower health care costs, he is encouraging a more selective use of nonessential drugs. Based on his research of ten years, Zahed believes that the majority of illnesses can be treated at a greatly reduced cost to the patient without compromising the quality of care. Thus, he is working with individual doctors, medical schools, and professional associations of doctors to raise awareness of what he sees as a dire problem of overprescription. Through formal classes and informal workshops, he teaches students and professionals to differentiate between essential and nonessential drugs. On the consumer side, he is encouraging patients to engage their doctor in an open discussion about which drugs are prescribed for their illnesses and why. To further democratize information about drugs, Zahed has set up a public drug information center. He is also pressuring the Directorate of Drug Control to follow procedure in introducing and promoting new drugs and to cancel all drugs that have not been tested properly.