In the crisp and vibrant air of November 2013, a promising initiative emerged – the ARK Foundation. Committed to enriching the landscape of research-based knowledge and making invaluable contributions to the health sector of Bangladesh, the organisation embarked on a remarkable journey. Fast forward to the 14th of October 2023, and ARK Foundation proudly celebrated a decade of unwavering commitment and dedication. This milestone was not just an occasion for merriment but a profound reflection on the substantial impact we’ve made towards achieving sustainable development goals and shaping effective policy development in public health systems.
The program unfolded in two distinct sessions, each bearing its own unique significance. In the first session, the focus was a critical policy discussion, revolving around “Addressing Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” Dr. Khaleda Islam, a renowned public health expert, a mentor to us and the former Director of the Primary Health Care, MoHFW, skilfully moderated the session, while the main program was led by Hossain Ali Khandkar, Additional Secretary-MoHFW and Coordinator of the National Tobacco Control Cell.
In addition, as a panellist, Professor Dr. Ahmedul Kabir, Additional Director General, DGHS, MOHFW and Mr. Md. Abdur Rahman Khan, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Finance.
The speakers of this session are Prof. Dr. Mohammad Robed Amin, Line Director, NCDC, DGHS, MOHFW, Mr. AHM Noman Khan, Executive Director, Centre for Disability in Development, Dr. Rashid Zaman, Health Adviser, British High Commission in Dhaka and Dr. Halida Hanum Akhter, Reproductive Health Epidemiologist, Johns Hopkins University, USA
The first session laid a solid foundation for the program by highlighting the importance of informed policy decisions in achieving sustainable development and improving public health. The speakers all applauded the ARK Foundation’s contribution to the control of NCDs and discussed how faster progress can be made by connecting different sectors in this way forward. In this discussion, the budget in the health sector, the extent and severity of non-communicable diseases in women, ensuring health care for disabled people, etc. were highlighted. Addressing the NDC for women, Dr. Halida Hanum Akhter said,
“NCDs cause two in three deaths among women annually, which is alarming”.
Mr. AHM Noman Khan highlighted the disability and said,
“For disabled people to get the necessary NCD services, the policies that have been developed should be implemented at the field level.”
This diverse and knowledgeable panel contributed to a robust discussion, addressing the complexities of NCDs and their alignment with the SDGs. Prof. Dr. Mohammad Robed Amin, Line Director, NCDC, DGHS, MOHFW thanked ARK during his presentation on ‘Addressing Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) for achieving Sustainable development Goal (SDG)’ and said,
“I want to give thanks to the ARK Foundation for working with several social determinants. They are working with Government Research Grants for exploring several ways of approaches to mitigate the gaps in the health sector, which demands different sectoral alignment along with coordination”.
Dr. Rashid Zaman, the Health Adviser at the British High Commission in Dhaka, highlighted the impact of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) on Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG Goal 1 (No Poverty), SDG Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and SDG Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). He also said,
“I want to congratulate the ARK Foundation for their wonderful journey of the last 10 years. We are very proud to be partners. In a few cases we have worked together and it was such a wonderful journey.”
At the end of this session our chief guest Hon’ble Minister of Planning Ministry of People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Mr. MA Mannan, MP and special guest Bangladesh Diabetic Association (BADAS) President – Professor Mr. AK Azad Khan handed over some greetings of appreciation to the speakers from the policy brief session.
The distinguished Vice Chancellor of Sylhet Medical University and Technical Consultant of the ARK Foundation, Prof. Dr. AHM Enayet Hussain, presided over the inaugural ceremony of the second and final session of the program. To commence this session, Professor Dr. Rumana Huque, Executive Director of the ARK Foundation, and Professor Dr. A H M Enayet Hussain extended a warm welcome to our esteemed Chief Guest and Special Guest, presenting them with traditional Northern clothing (উত্তরীয়). Dr. Rumana Huque delivered an insightful speech, providing an overview of the ARK Foundation’s remarkable 10-year journey, accompanied by an impressive video presentation.
Thanking everyone for having our backs and being strong advocates, she mentioned,
“In this journey of our 10 years, your support and advice are always our way forward”.
During this session we were also delighted to have honourable Additional Director General of the Department of Health of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Dr. Ahmedul Kabir sir.
Our honourable chief guest and special guest have recognised ARK’s participation for research in the health sector. For guiding us with more diverse issues, Bangladesh Diabetic Association (BADAS) President – Professor Mr. AK Azad Khan mentioned,
“We have to take care of digitization of the Health Care System. Also, to reduce NCD we have to take initiative to ban Tobacco Cultivation.”
We were delighted to have the esteemed Minister of the Planning Ministry in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Mr. MA Mannan, MP, whose visionary leadership has been instrumental in propelling Bangladesh’s development towards the goal of a Smart Bangladesh. It was an honour to have the Honourable Minister as our Chief Guest at this event. The presence of Mr. MA Mannan, MP, and Professor Mr. AK Azad Khan among us brought immense joy to everyone in attendance. In recognition of their presence, Dr. Rumana Huque, the Executive Director of ARK Foundation, conveyed our deep appreciation through a heartfelt gesture. She presented a souvenir representing our beloved country – a traditional rickshaw, as a token of our affection to the Chief and special guest. During this program, the Honourable Minister graciously extended greetings to those in attendance and also had the privilege of unveiling the New Logo of the ARK Foundation. In a celebratory spirit, the Honourable Minister, along with everyone present, came together to cut the cake, marking this significant moment.
As we celebrate this remarkable 10-year milestone, we are pleased to announce the publication of a comprehensive booklet. This booklet includes a Message from the Executive Director, as well as messages from our valued Partners, Collaborators, Supervisors, and Mentors. It provides a concise yet informative overview of our journey thus far.
Within the pages of this booklet, you will find selected studies covering a wide range of critical health topics, including Non-communicable Diseases, Communicable Diseases, Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child, and Adolescent Health, Health System Strengthening, as well as the pressing issue of Climate Change and our other Multi-sectoral Projects. Furthermore, it highlights our efforts in Capacity Development and Research Uptake.
We invite you to explore this publication, which encapsulates a decade of dedication and progress in the field of health and research. (To read the booklet, please click this link.)
The recent ceremony served as a significant milestone of the ARK Foundation’s remarkable 10-year milestone celebration. But let’s not close the curtain just yet. Following a sumptuous buffet lunch extended to all the esteemed event guests, it was time for a heartfelt gathering. The dedicated individuals who have tirelessly worked for the foundation, along with their steadfast companions on this remarkable journey, came together to exchange personal greetings. It was a touching moment as we concluded this eventful day with a final cultural program, highlighting the strong sense of community and shared experiences that have fuelled our journey thus far. The ARK Foundation’s journey continues, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.
Author: Prema Nath
Research and Communication Officer, ARK Foundation Bangladesh.