Bangladesh Embraces Indian Medico's 'Save Girl Child' Campaign


(MENAFN- IANS) Pune, Feb 25 (IANS) Thousands of people and medicos in Bangladesh last week pledged to join a unique 12-year-old 'Save Girl Child' initiative by Pune's famed gynaecologist Dr. Ganesh Rakh.

Dr. Rakh, who was invited for a 10-day long guidance tour to different parts of rural Bangladesh, led processions in several towns and villages with thousands marching and chanting slogans to 'Save Girl Child'.

In the biggest event of its kind, over 10,000 trooped behind Dr. Rakh in villages of Jessore district, carrying banners and placards pledging to 'Save Girl Child'.

The marchers comprised mostly women, and girls in the age group of 20-50. Many men also participated at the remote Hidia village in the Khulna division with people from over two dozen neighbouring villages also enthusiastically joining the procession.

“Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriages in the world. This has various health implications for the girls, especially those from the economically weaker sections. Thus, there is a high mortality rate among the girls born there,” Dr. Rakh told IANS on his return from Bangladesh on Saturday

He said that this was an introductory, pilot project with community involvement and now hundreds of private hospitals and clinics have decided to take up the 'Save Girl Child' campaign in Bangladesh.

Dr. Rakh was honoured and felicitated in several towns and villages including by the Bangladesh Private Clinic & Diagnostic Owner's Association (BPCDOA), recognized by the country's government, and conducted around four dozen big and small events in 10 days, including some at night.

BPCDOA President Dr. Muhammad Gaji M. Rahman lauded Dr. Rakh's efforts in creating the awareness and committed to organise similar programs all over Bangladesh in the coming months.

BPCDOA Divisional Council Member Dr. M.D. Tarikul Islam underlined the need“to treat all daughters with equality and dignity like the sons” in order to safeguard their future and ensure social and economic progress.

“The girl child is our tomorrow and our future. She is not a burden on the family, since without her, the family, the community, and society cannot flourish or progress," said senior teacher Tahamina Rubi of Nawly High School in Abhaynagar in Jessore district.

At another event, the Allardan Hospital & Diagnostic Centre of Chattogram district and the Fatima Hospital & Diagnostic Centre of Narail district announced that they will also launch the 'Save Girl Child' campaign in their districts.

Other prominent medicos from various private hospitals like Dr. S.M. Sajjad Rehman, Dr. Kayes Al-Azad and Babul Hasan also declared they would provide concessions to girls in treatment charges.

In the Narail programme, medicos and social workers like Bipin Kumar Malik, S.M. Ibrahim Hossain, M.M. Jahangir Alam, S.M. Sirajul Islam and Chintu Biswas were present and spoke on the status of the girl child and steps to protect them. Medicos also announced free diagnostic tests and treatment for girls.

Dr. Rakh, 48, launched the 'Save Girl Child' (Beti Bachao Jan Andolan or BBJA) modestly at his small Medicare Hospital in Pune on January 3, 2012, in an unprecedented manner –“by waiving off all hospital bills, if a female infant was born”, and no questions asked.

The BBJA initiative coincided with the birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule (1831-1897).

Initially ridiculed as the 'Mad Doctor', Dr. Rakh went on undeterred and from January 2012 to January 2024, the Medicare Hospital has notched over 2,525 free deliveries of baby girls, earning him accolades from across the world.

These free-of-cost deliveries were irrespective of the mother or the family's financial status. Also, free follow-ups and all other medical treatments were provided to the mother and her female baby.

His idea caught on soon, and individual doctors and small clinics, followed by big hospitals, joined in triggering a new trend in the country's health sector.

“In the last 12 years, the birth of a female child here to any patient - rich, middle class or poor - is an occasion for a big celebration for us... We do not charge the girl's parents a single rupee,” said Dr. Rakh.

After IANS first highlighted Dr. Rakh's solitary mission (July 2014), it caught attention around the country and even globally, with invitations pouring into the launch of similar campaigns in the US, Europe, Arabian Gulf, South Asia and Far East countries.

“So far, I have managed to conduct the campaign in Canada (2017), Zambia (2018) and Bangladesh (2024). Gradually, I would try to go and launch the humanitarian crusade in other countries as well,” he said.

In the past 12 years, the campaign has seen over 500,000 doctors joining the initiative in different ways, and more than 13,000 social, religious and medical organisations, including the famous Ajmer Sharif Dargah, supporting it.

Besides, Dr. Rakh has conducted more than 1,000 rallies in India and abroad, and 25 lakh-plus volunteers and commoners working in their own humble ways to take it forward.

"Earlier, there was a clamour among parents for 'Ghar Ka Chirag', now there is a good tolerance if a 'Ghar Ki Laxmi' steps into the homes of people, as indicated by the National Health Survey-5, Phase II, with the male-female ratio improving. But we still have a long way to go..." sighed Dr. Rakh.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at ...)

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