AIUB organized  the 1st Conference for Young Public Health Professionals, 2014 which promised unrivalled opportunities for sharing experiences, dissemination of scientific findings and scope for networking among the broad spectrum professionals in the public health sector. The conference was attended by distinguished and renowned public health experts, who enlightened the crowd of young public health students and professionals with their knowledge and expertise. This was truly a unique platform as there was a blending of old and new experiences shared under the context of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The conference focused on the depth and dimension, achievements and challenges that Bangladesh has experienced beyond the Millennium Development Goals. The conference is a showcase, yet another exceptional program addressing the evolving national health needs, scientific progresses and familiarity with the best practices gleaned from the rich experiences of Bangladesh and elsewhere. Ultimately, this conference has contributed to a stronger, more resilient, sustainable and equitable health system that is universally accessible. The conference began on November 29, 2014 and the inaugural ceremony was held at 9:30AM. The honorable Vice Chancellor of American International University-Bangladesh (AIUB), Dr. Carmen Z. Lamagna and the honorable Chairman of AIUB, Mr. Ishtiaque Abedin were present along with distinguished personalities such as the Chief Guest - Prof. Dr. A.K. Azad Chowdhury, Chairman (State Minister), University Grants Commission of Bangladesh, Special Guest - Prof. Dr. Shamsul Alam, Member, General Economic Division, Planning Commission of Bangladesh, Keynote Speaker, Dr. Mushtaque R. Chowdhury, Vice-Chairman, BRAC and the Vote of Thanks was given by Pro Vice Chancellor of AIUB, Prof. Dr. Charles C. Villanueva. After Mr. Ishtiaque Abedin declared AIUB 1st Conference for Young Public Health Professionals officially opened, Prof. Dr. Ahmad Neaz, shared with us his overview and focus of the conference by reiterating the aims and objectives. Special guest, Prof. Dr. Shamsul Alam enlightened us upon the 7th 5- year plan of the government and its implications in the health sector. Prof. Dr. A.K. Azad Chowdhury,  delivered an extemporaneous speech underscoring the importance of increasing not only quantity of post-secondary health education opportunities but more importantly to raise the quality of University and college level education both at the public and private institutions. Dr. Carmen Z. Lamagna delivered an informative speech on the  theme of the conference. Lastly, the Keynote Speech was given by Dr. Mushtaque R. Chowdhury on ‘Universal Health Coverage: Rhetoric or Reality?’ The first session started with Pathfinder International. The organization had  an insightful presentations on Maternal and Child Health, Nutrition, and Family Planning. They ended the session with a heart stopping skit that highlighted domestic and gender based violence.  The next session was led by James P. Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, where a group of exceptional young public health professionals presented their research and project findings to the audience. The parallel sessions taking place side by side, where young public health professionals presented their research and literature review. The 1st plenary session on Demographic Dividend in Bangladesh was presented by Tauhid Alam, Former Economist, UNFPA. This session was chaired by Prof. Dr. G.U. Ahsan, Dean, School of Health and Life Sciences, North South University. The 2nd plenary session was on Human Resource Requirement for Universal Health Coverage and was presented by Prof. Dr. Humayun Kabir Talukder. This session was chaired by Dr. Halida Akhter, Chief of Party, NHSDP. Day 1 saw the presence of renowned individuals in the field of Public Health such as Mr. D.K. Nath, Former Secretary and Advisor of Caretaker Government; Prof. Dr. Malabika Sarker, Director Research, JPGSPH, BRACU; Dr. Mizanur Rahman, University of North Carolina; Dr. AM Zakir Hussain, Former Regional Advisor, Environmental Health and Climate Change, SEARO, WHO; Dr. Jahir Uddin Ahmed, Former DG, FPAB; Dr. Munirul Alam, Senior Scientist, icddr,b, Dr. Abu Jamil Faisel, Country director, EngenderHealth, Ms. Sophia Barkat, University of North Arizona. On the second day of the conference, November 30, 2014, the conference was held in Baton Rouge Banquet Hall, Banani. The first session of Day 2 started with Wateraid and focused on Bridging Wash and Health, where their young professionals presented their findings on water, sanitation and hygiene practices as well as knowledge, attitude and practice on menstrual hygiene. This session was chaired by Prof. Dr. Md. Sharfuddin Ahmed, Dean, Faculty of Preventive and Social Medicine, BSMMU and moderated by Dr. Khairul Islam, Country representative, Wateraid Bangladesh. Save the Children took the next session titled Designing Public Health Programs for Low Resource Settings. This session was chaired by Prof. Dr. Liaquat Ali, Vice Chancellor, BUHS and moderated by Dr. Abu Jamil Faisel, Country Director, EngenderHealth, Bangladesh. The speaker were: Dr. Jebun Nessa Rahman, Dr. Sabbir Ahmed, Imteaz Ibne Mannan. Orbis International took a session on Universal Eye Health: Orbis Initiatives and Experience in Bangladesh. This session was chaired by Dr. Munir Ahmed, Country Director, Orbis International, Bangladesh Country Office, Chair, INGO forum of Eye care, Bangladesh and moderated by Mohammed Alauddin, Director of Programs, Orbis International Bangladesh Country Office, Dhaka, Bangladesh. The next session was the third and last plenary session. The topic of discussion was Healthcare financing in Bangladesh: Current status and future requirement to address UHC and was presented by Md. Ashadul Islam, Director General, Health Economics Unit, Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The Chair for this session was Prof. Dr. Shamsul Alam, Member, General Economic Division, Planning Commission of Bangladesh. There was a panel discussion on Public Health Education in Bangladesh: Prospects and Challenges. This session was chaired by Prof. Dr. G. H Rabbani, Director, Department of Public Health, BSMMU and moderated by Dr. Md. Nazrul Islam, MBBS; DPH; MSc, PhD, Professor, Department of Maternal and Child Health, NIPSOM. The panelists included Dr. Shajedul Hasan, Joint Secretary, MoHFW, Prof. Dr. G. U Ahsan, Dean, School of Health and Life Sciences, Chairman, Public Health Department, North South University, Prof. Dr. Akhtarun Naher, Director, NIPSOM, Dr. Fariha Haseen, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health and Informatics, BSMMU and the discussion was initiated by young public health professional: Dr. M. Tasdik Hasan, District MCH & Immunization Officer (DMCH&IO), GAVI Alliance. Mr. M.M Reza, Former Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, MoHFW; Dr. Muhammod Abdus Sabur, Adjunct Faculty, AIUB were also present during the session. The Closing ceremony was held at 6:00PM and was chaired by Dr. Carmen Z. Lamagna, honorable Vice Chancellor of AIUB with Mr. Ishtiaque Abedin, Chairman, AIUB as Chief Guest. We also said special guest Dr. Shahidullah Shikder, Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and Developments), BSMMU and special speech given by Dr. Abbas Uddin Bhuiyan, Deputy Executive Director, icddr,b. The topic of 'Universal Health Coverage in Bangladesh and the Role of Public Health Professionals' was a nice rounded closing in keeping with the theme of the conference. Prof. Dr. Ahmad Neaz spoke about the outcome of the conference. Lastly, the vote of thanks was expressed by Prof. Dr. Tazul Islam, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, AIUB. The objectives of the conference included examining the implication of national health system under the context of epidemiological transition, globalization of diseases and changing age structures, achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), assessing the existing human resources of the national health sector and raising public expenditure on health, developing the capacity to absorb additional fund by strengthening health system management and designing the national health insurance policy using the experiences of pilot projects. All these have been achieved through the active contribution and cooperation of all the partner organizations, the leaders in public health - BRAC, icddr,b, Pathfinder International, WaterAid, and ORBIS International. Without this collaboration, the event could not have been such a resounding success. American International University-Bangladesh (AIUB) conveyed its deep appreciation and gratitude to the efforts of all partner organizations, stakeholders and participants and commitments to strengthen public health and address inequity in health through a multiple stakeholders, a health in all policies approach, and most importantly, a whole-of-government approach. There were enormous and valuable information presented and discussed during this conference, ranging from Non-communicable and communicable diseases to maternal and child health to role of electronic media in health care services. The young presenters did an outstanding job. All were truly honored to have our guests, chairs, moderators, discussants and panelists, sharing their skills and wisdom with the audience. The commitment is evident and has been so clearly demonstrated by the presence and active engagement of all.

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