I was awarded John Guest Phillips Travelling Scholarship to cover the cost of return flights to Bangladesh for one part of my PhD data collection trip. The Scholarship enabled me to visit Saidpur and Parpatipur field-sites in the north-west of Bangladesh, where I spent two months collecting anthropometric data and blood samples from children under 5 years of age. The fieldwork was carried out in collaboration with Concern Worldwide ( Bangladesh) and Winrock International, as a part of a one year educational and behavioural intervention to study on the impacts of indoor air pollution (IAP) on the health of poor communities in Bangladesh.
Indoor air pollution is a real concern throughout Bangladesh. The majority of the population use traditional mud stoves throughout the country. The fuel-burning efficiency of the mud stoves is very poor, resulting in long cooking times and high levels of smoke and particulate matter emissions, which are very harmful to health. Respiratory infections and asthma which are very prevalent in Bangladesh may be due to high levels of exposure to indoor air pollution
Concern has provided support on health and development issues for the past 25 years in the area of Saidpur and Parpatipur in the north west of Bangladesh. Concern’s success in delivering health messages makes the area suitable for the delivery of the IAP intervention, due to communities’ positive attitude towards accepting new health messages.
During my trip to the field-site I was able to take part in the initiation and the set-up of the IAP project within communities. I was involved in training a team of 16 people to carry out household survey in the form of interview and two 2-member teams, who were responsible for the blood collection from children under 5 years of age.
Fieldwork was very successful and we managed to carry out household survey in 625 households and collected blood and anthropometric data from 424 children.
This data is invaluable for my PhD as it provides baseline information on fuel-use practises and child health status in the communities. The fieldwork will be repeated twice within the next two months to obtain a clear picture of the health status of young children in the communities, which are badly affected by indoor air pollution.
During my trip I was fortunate to attend a 5-day HICAP workshop run by Concern Bangladesh (Rangpur) on partnership development, which was aimed for local governors and community heads as well as hospitals and health care units in north Bangladesh. The aim of this workshop was to highlight the existing strengths and skills of the community and plan possible ways to utilise these skills efficiently to improve the health status of people in the region. It was extremely interesting to get a closer look at Concern’s work in other areas of development work.
I would like to thank the Prizes Committee for awarding me the John Guest Phillips Travelling Scholarship, which made it possible for me to visit Bangladesh for the data collection which is invaluable for my PhD work.