Since independence of the country, the Health Sector of Bangladesh (now called Health, nutrition, and Population Sector) has been growing steadily. For long it has been carrying out huge activities and interventions and incurring vast amount of expenditure. In order to enhance the level of economic efficiency of resource use (or to ensure best possible spending of money) in the sector, the need for applications of the health economic theories and tools that were developed and successfully used in the countries of western Europe were increasingly felt by the policy makers and managers of the sector. It may be noted that Health Economics greatly differ from conventional Economics in principle, objective, approach, and theories and tools. The government recognized the necessity of creating a competent manpower and started sending officials to the universities in the UK to receive short training in Health Economics and hire in Health Economists from abroad to provide technical assistance to the sector. The Health Economics Unit was established in 1994 to coordinate these activities. But very soon it appeared that the efforts of sending people abroad for training and hiring Health Economists from foreign countries are very expensive; and the government decided to establish a centre of teaching and research in Health Economics within the country so as to create an adequately large group of Health Economists using relatively low amount of resources. The DFID on behalf of the donors’ consortium agreed to provide the initial support and technical assistance. University of Dhaka agreed to the proposal of the MOHFW to establish an institute to offer degree programs in Health Economics and conduct research in the field. InJune 1998, the institute was set up in the university through its twelfth Statute. The authority assigned me the responsibility of undertaking the necessary initial activities, in addition to my work as a Professor in the Department of Economics. I was shifted to the Institute and became the full time Professor there a bit later.
At the time of its inception, its establishment and resource base was almost zero. From that level it steadily grew, increasing bit by bit its resources and activities. The infant of 1998 has now come of age. Its capacity has increased manifold: it has a nice premise within the Arts Faculty Building, and a good number of qualified teachers, officers and staff. It has been regularly conducting four-year BSS (Hons.), Masters , M.Phil., and PhD programs, running an Executive Masters program, conducting short training courses for the professionals, undertaking both academic and policy research on a multitudinous health economic issues, organizing seminars and conferences, and its faculty members participate in international seminars and conferences and have been publishing research papers in the national and international papers. A very dynamic and competent leadership has also emerged.
It gives me immense pleasure and a sense of pride to observe such a phenomenal growth of the institute. I feel highly privileged and proud in having been involved in it from its formative stage to date. The management and teachers of the institute are regularly devising new plans and activities for its continuous development and improvement of academic performances, so as to establish it as a centre of excellence for studies in Health Economics that is comparable to any standard of an academic organization being found anywhere in the globe. I strongly believe that if the institute can maintain the present pace of development, it will not take much long time to be able to accomplish its ultimate objectives. It has already been contributing to the performances of the sector with its multifarious activities, and this role will continue to increase as it develops to its full potential.
Professor Dr. Sushil Ranjan Howlader
Institute of Health Economics
University of Dhaka