Date: 11 Feb 2019 - 12 Feb 2019
Access to Information (a2i), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, UNICEF, icddr,b, Measure Evaluation, and Bloomberg Data for Health (D4H) Initiative has jointly organized an “International Conference on Big Data for Health” to develop a road map for how Bangladesh’s Health community can leverage Big Data sources and techniques to create policies and programs that improve the health situation of the people of Bangladesh. This two-day conference was held at Bangladesh International Conference Center (BICC), Dhaka from 11th to 12th February, 2019. The conference was inaugurated by Mr. Mustafa Jabbar, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology. In the inaugural ceremony said, “Bangladesh has gained the capability to lead in the digital technology world. We are the first country to declare ourselves as digital. We will not be lagging behind in technology. Big Data wouldn’t be big challenge for us. There are plans to introduce 5G between 2021-2023.” Mr. Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs), Prime Minister’s Office; Mr. Md Ashadul Islam, Secretary, Health Services Division, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; Mr. Saurendra Nath Chakrabhartty, Secretary, Statistics & Informatics Division, Ministry of Planning; Prof. Dr Abul Kalam Azad, Director General, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS); Mr. Md. Mustafizur Rahman, Project Director (Additional Secretary), a2i Programme; Mr. Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative, UNDP Bangladesh; and Mr. Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor, a2i Programme were present and delivered speeches at the opening ceremony. Conference sessions has addressed three thematic areas: international experiences with Big Data applications that improved Health outcomes; existing and potential Big Data sources for health-related applications in Bangladesh; and, strategies for building capacity to develop health-related Big Data applications. It will support long-term and wide-ranging use of Big Data to address Health challenges. Experts from organizations who had implemented successful health-related Big Data solutions in 15 different countries including USA, UK, Australia, Japan, China, etc. presented their experiences and discussed the issues that might arise in replicating these solutions in Bangladesh. In addition, representatives of donor organizations had provided insights on the challenges of supporting the implementation of Big Data solutions. Mr. Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor, a2i cited the key achievements of the two-day conference in his concluding remark. He said, “Bangladesh has been interested in using Big Data for the past few years and through this conference areas of major data applications were identified in the context of Bangladesh. We have found commitments from stakeholders through their participation. Now we will be able to establish a general platform to apply Big Data accumulated from different sources. The culture of data in Bangladesh comes from a ‘culture of reporting’, we need to change that mindset to ‘culture of problem solving.”“Policy should not straitjacket us, policy should be enabling. Through this conference, with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, a road map of Big Data for Health for the next 3 years will be formulated” he added. Project Director of a2i and Additional Secretary Md. Mustafizur Rahman thanked the participants and mentioned the conference as a great platform for debate, challenge, innovation and agreement. This Conference had provided a timely platform to exchange knowledge, experiences and expertise to discuss ways of harnessing Big Data in health service delivery for sustainable development. Dr. Krishna Gayen, Director General, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS); Dr. Bardan Jung Rana, WHO Representative to Bangladesh; Richard Delaney, Deputy Director, Vital Strategies, Bloomberg Philanthropies; Dr. Ashir Ahmed, Associate Professor, Department of Advanced Information Technology, Kyushu University, Japan; Rahul Sachdev, CEO & Cofounder, Fortella; MM Reza, Chief Technical Advisor, Program Management Monitoring Unit, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare were present at the conference, among others.
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