Dr Sharmin Zahan

Dr Sharmin Zahan is a global health leader with a sound background in Public Health and Medicine, with a special interest in Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health, Immunization, Civil Society, Public-Private partnerships and Global Health Initiatives (GHI). She is experienced in public health programme/project management, strategy and overall programme design, proposal development, fund raising, grant management, and research and report writing. Sharmin has served as a guest lecturer to MPH students at James P Grant School of PH, Brac University, Bangladesh. She is a specialist in qualitative research and received the award for best dissertation with High Honours in 2010 from the James P Grant School of Public Health. She has completed a dissertation on international actors' engagement in fragile and conflict-affected countries' health system strengthening processes – A Case Study from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the South Sudan context. Sharmin is registered with the General Medical Council UK (GMC-UK), and Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC). 



Brac is a development organisation originating in Bangladesh in 1972. Bangladesh has made remarkable strides in healthcare in the four decades since independence. Since the 1990's maternal mortality has dropped from 574 to 194 deaths per 100,000 live births, and child mortality from 133 to less than 32 per 1,000 live births. In the 1980's, when immunisation coverage was two per cent, the shared roles and activities of BRAC and the government improved the status to 70 per cent within the last four years. The current status of fully immunised children is at 86 per cent. 

Despite the achievements, Bangladesh still suffers a high burden of deaths and diseases. Over 70 per cent of people seek care from informal health care providers and 62 per cent of those health providers practicing modern medicine have little or no formal schooling. One third of births take place at home, mostly assisted by unsupervised, untrained birth attendants. Recognising these problems, Brac has created a pool of frontline community health workers, the shasthya shebikas and shasthya kormis, who strive to address the crisis of human resources in the health sector by playing a substantial role in providing accessible and affordable services to the majority of the population. Brac’s Essential Health Care (EHC) programme was initiated in 1991 and has revolutionised the primary healthcare approach in Bangladesh, reaching millions with low-cost basic promotive, preventive and curative services through the cadre of frontline community health workers. Immunisation is an important component of EHC programme.