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WHO Offers Aid to Bangladesh for Health Sector Development

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed interest in supporting Bangladesh for the capacity building of doctors and other health professionals.

Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia Region Saima Wazed showed the interest while paying a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the latter’s official residence Ganabhaban on Friday evening. PM’s Speech Writer Md Nazrul Islam briefed reporters after the meeting.

“The WHO has expressed interest to extend support, particularly training support for capacity building of doctors and other health professionals of Bangladesh,” he said.

The United Nations agency will work on several issues here in Bangladesh, including climate change related diseases, mental health and assistance to climate vulnerable groups like women, children and persons with disability. Since Bangladesh is one of the worst victims of climate change, where women, children and the persons with disabilities suffer much during any disaster, the WHO will work for the climate vulnerable groups.

Besides, the WHO will support Bangladesh to tackle climate change related diseases, including the diseases caused by air pollution, sound pollution and rise of temperature. In the case of mental health, the organization suggested incorporation of mental health issues like behavioural approach in dealing with patients in all training programmes, education and curriculum of health professionals.

The World Health Organisation will extend support for universal health coverage in Bangladesh. The Prime Minister said the WHO is an important development partner of the health sector of Bangladesh. Noting that Bangladesh has attained a significant development in the health sector, she said her government established community clinics throughout the country and the health services and free medicines are provided to women and children from the clinics. So, the child and mother mortality rates have declined significantly, while the average life expectancy has gone up, she added.

Mentioning that the young girls feel shy to talk about breast cancer, the premier stressed the need for early diagnosis of breast cancer. If breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the disease is curable. She said the government is working to introduce a referral system at Upazila and union levels for the early diagnosis of breast cancer. The prime minister said Bangladesh is going to assist Bhutan to construct a burn unit there.

She said Bangladesh is going to be a regional hub of health education as a good number of students are already there in Bangladesh from Bhutan, Nepal and India. The government is trying to expand the programme, she added. Sheikh Hasina said the government recruited 25,000 doctors and 15,000 nurses on emergency basis during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The PM said the government is going to introduce a licensing examination for private health practitioners. Health Minister Dr Samanta Lal Sen and State Minister for Health Dr Rokeya Sultana, among others, were present.

Earlier, Harvard University’s history professor Sugata Bose paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her residence. During the meeting, they recalled the memories of the 1971 Liberation War and focused on the bonding between the peoples of Bangladesh and India. PMO Secretary Mohammad Salahuddin was present. Sugata Bose is a family member of Subhas Chandra Bose and Sharat Chandra Bose. He is a grandson of Sharat Chandra Bose.

On February 1 last, Saima Wazed assumed charge as Regional Director for World Health Organization South-East Asia Region. Saima Wazed is the first from Bangladesh and the second woman to hold this office.

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UK inflation holds at 2% in June: official data

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Britain’s inflation rate held steady in June after returning to the Bank of England’s target the previous month, official data showed Wednesday, confounding expectations for another modest slowdown.

The Consumer Prices Index was unchanged at 2.0 percent in June from the same level in May, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement, compared with market forecasts of 1.9 percent.

“Hotel prices rose strongly, while second-hand car costs fell but by less than this time last year,” said ONS chief executive Grant Fitzner.
“However, these were offset by falling clothing prices, with widespread sales driving down their cost.

“Meanwhile, the cost of both raw materials and goods leaving factories fell on the month, though factory gate prices remain above where they were a year ago.”

Analysts said the data could cause the Bank of England to sit tight for a while longer before starting to cut interest rates.

“The chances of an interest rate cut in August have diminished a bit more,” said Paul Dales, chief UK economist at research consultancy Capital Economics.

Last month, the BoE kept its key interest rate at a 16-year high of 5.25 percent, despite slowing inflation in May.

Britain’s newly elected Labour government welcomed news that inflation remained at the BoE’s target level.

“It is welcome that inflation is at target,” said Darren Jones, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in a statement.

“But we know that for families across Britain prices remain high… (which) is why this government is taking the tough decisions now to fix the foundations” of the UK economy, he said.

Labour, led by new Prime Minister Keir Starmer, has pledged immediate action to grow the economy after the centre-left party won a landslide general election victory to end 14 years of Conservative rule.

Later on Wednesday, King Charles III will read out Labour’s first programme for government in a decade and a half, when the UK parliament formally reopens following the July 4 election.
Elevated interest rates have worsened a UK cost-of-living squeeze because they increase borrowing repayments, thereby cutting disposable incomes and crimping economic activity.

The BoE began a series of rate hikes in late 2021 to combat inflation, which rose after countries emerged from Covid lockdowns and accelerated after the invasion of Ukraine by key oil and gas producer Russia.

 

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China’s economy grew less than expected in second quarter: official data

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China’s economy grew 4.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2024, official data showed Monday, less than analysts had expected.

“By quarter, the GDP for the first quarter increased by 5.3 percent year on year and for the second quarter 4.7 percent,” Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.

The figures were much lower than the 5.1 percent predicted by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Retail sales — a key gauge of consumption — also slowed to just two percent in June, the NBS said, down from 3.7 percent in May.

The world’s second-largest economy is grappling with a real estate debt crisis, weakening consumption, an ageing population and trade tensions with Western rivals.

Top officials are meeting in Beijing on Monday for a key plenum, with all eyes on how they might kickstart lacklustre growth.

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Concerns Mount Over Revenue Loss as South Asia’s Largest Land Port Curtails Operations

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Bangladeshi officials are grappling with fears of revenue loss as the largest land port in South Asia, situated along the India-Bangladesh border, has ceased operations for 10 hours each day since July 11.

The Petrapole Land Port in India, crucial for trade between the two nations, has been shutting down from 6 PM to 8 AM daily, without providing any explanation for the closure, according to officials from the Benapole Land Authority in Bangladesh. This unexpected halt has left Bangladeshi authorities and traders in a state of uncertainty, as there is no indication of when the operations might resume to normalcy.

Industry insiders warn that this disruption could lead to a significant revenue shortfall at Benapole port due to decreased imports, adversely affecting Bangladeshi importers with delayed product deliveries.

Rezaul Karim, Director of Traffic at Benapole Land Port Authority, emphasized that while Benapole has been maintaining 24-hour operations, Petrapole’s recent restrictions are hindering cargo truck movements after evening.

“We have inquired with the Petrapole port authority about the reasons for halting trade services after evening. They responded that the matter is under discussion with relevant authorities,” Karim said.

Sultan Mahmud Bipul, Secretary of Benapole C&F Agent Association International Checkpost Affairs, highlighted the fiscal implications of this disruption. “Benapole port has set a revenue target of Tk6,705 crore from imported goods for the fiscal year 2024-25. If the 24-hour import facility remains discontinued, it will severely impact our revenue targets,” he noted.

Ziaur Rahman, General Secretary of Benapole Landport Importers and Exporters Association, pointed out the severe impact on trade, particularly with perishable goods. “Traders dealing with perishable food products are incurring the biggest losses due to this halt. The inability of goods trucks to enter after evening will widen the trade deficit,” Rahman remarked.

As the situation unfolds, the Benapole Land Port Authority and associated trade bodies continue to seek clarity and resolution from their Indian counterparts to mitigate the economic repercussions of this operational disruption.

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