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Medicinal Drugs and Drug Policy

The per capita consumption of Western drugs in Bangladesh was about US$1 per year in the late 1980s. According to a government statement in 1982, although most people had no access to lifesaving drugs, a large number of wasteful and undesirable medicinal products were manufactured and marketed mostly under commercial pressure. A national drug policy promulgated in 1982 was aimed at simplifying the range of drugs available and at improving the logistics of drug distribution at reasonable prices. The policy identified sixteen guidelines for the evaluation of medicinal products for the purpose of registration. The registration of more than 1,700 products was canceled and these were gradually withdrawn from use. Unani, ayurvedic, and other homeopathic medicines were also brought under this policy.

Under the new policy, in order to promote local enterprise, foreign companies were no longer allowed to manufacture antacid and vitamin preparations. The policy identified 150 essential drugs for therapeutic purposes. Attempts to increase local production of drugs continued, and the government provided Bangladeshi firms with generous industrial loans and other assistance. Some essential drugs were also being manufactured at government plants.

As the 1980s came to a close, Bangladeshi society had made some remarkable advances in social development, education, and health care. Severe national disasters, however, in addition to political discontent, contributed to the negation of any net advances. Ever optimistic, Bangladeshis continued their age-old struggle against the land and sought ways to accommodate the burgeoning society.

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Nafis Ahmad's An Economic Geography of East Pakistan, although outdated, remains the most useful broad survey of the geography of Bangladesh. It can be supplemented by Ahmad's A New Economic Geography of Bangladesh, Haroun Er Rashid's An Economic Geography of Bangladesh, and O.H.K. Spate and A.T.A. Learmonth's standard work, India and Pakistan: A General and Regional Geography.

The most useful sources on population are the Bangladesh government's Statistical Yearbook of Bangladesh, Statistical Pocketbook of Bangladesh, and Third Five-Year Plan, 1985-1990, and the World Bank's World Development Report on Bangladesh.

Despite a general dearth of writing on Islam in Bangladesh, works worth considering include Rafiuddin Ahmed's Islam in Bangladesh and Essays on the Muslims of Bengal. Peter J. Bertocci's "Bangladesh: Composite Cultural Identity and Modernization in a Muslim-Majority State" is also helpful.

The standard work on the Bangladeshi social system is A.K. Nazmul Karim's The Dynamics of Bangladesh Society. Mohammad Afsaruddin's Rural Life in East Pakistan provides insight into rural social dynamics. Much of this book remains relevant to the changing society of Bangladesh. A collection of readings, edited by Robert D. Stevens, Hamzi Alavi, and Peter J. Bertocci, Rural Development in Bangladesh and Pakistan, examines changes in rural society. A.K.M. Aminul Islam's A Bangladesh Village is a study of change and tension in a village society in the process of transformation.

Shamsul Huque's Education in Bangladesh briefly reviews education issues. Disaster in Bangladesh, edited by Lincoln C. Chen, deals with several health, nutrition, and work force issues. Family Planning Program in Bangladesh, published by the Ministry of Health and Family Planning, is a useful review of family planning initiatives and programs. The annual Bibliography of Asian Studies, published by the Association for Asian Studies, has entries for numerous useful studies on Bangladesh since independence. Bangladesh: A Select Bibliography of English Language Periodical Literature, 1971-1986 by Joyce L. and Enayetur Rahim provides a comprehensive survey of periodical literature since independence. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of September 1988

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Bangladesh Table of Contents