Global Resources

With the People, For the People: Gonoshasthaya Kendra Bangladesh (The People's Health Centre)

Author: T. Haque
Publisher: One World Action
Publication Date: Jan 2003
At a time when the benefits of development policies often only reach small, urban elites, how can development organisations better help with the problems faced by excluded and vulnerable populations such as women and children? This report outlines the work of Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK), or The People's Health Centre, in Bangladesh. GK uses health care as an entry point to reach poor communities and to provide them with education, vocational skills training, and to promote a greater awareness of their rights. GK's ways of working are unusual. Staff members of GK are recruited from the grass roots and leave their homes to live and work at the organisation's centres. GK argues that this provides valuable opportunities for learning and empowerment, helps to build networks and relationships and enables women to engage in non-family contact with people from different communities and cultures. Challenges have arisen through GK's emphasis on self-sufficiency (it operates outside the Bangladesh health sector), recent expansion of programmes and the difficulties involved in ensuring high-quality senior and mid-level staff whilst maintaining grass-roots recruitment and promotion policies.