Bangladesh is yet to reach heights in ensuring balanced nutrition for all, maternal, adolescent, and child. However, with the economic progress, Bangladesh has observed some notable achievements in the overall nutrition level of the country, with significant improvement in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Despite many challenges, the government has made strides in reducing the prevalence of stunting nationally, falling from 41 percent in 2011 to 28 percent in 2019 (NIPORT et al. 2013; BBS and UNICEF Bangladesh 2019). However, despite this progress, the overall state of malnutrition among children and women in Bangladesh remains high. The 2018 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS), where Mitra and Associates was also actively involved, found that the level of underweight children is 22%. Less than 18% of pregnant women receive quality care.
The government of Bangladesh has taken several nutrition programs to upgrade the overall health status. They have access to the information through different studies and assessments by the government and national and international organizations. Mitra and Associates has been proudly working with the government and other organizations. The organization has been involved with several nutritional studies, including all DHS study, Improving Nutrition through Community-Based Approaches in Bangladesh (2017 Baseline Survey), Baseline survey for Bangladesh integrated nutrition project, NBPP Household surveys for Worldview International Foundation (WIF, 1992).
Mitra and Associates’ survey measures vital health-related indicators at the individual and community levels. Interviews are conducted at the community, household, individual, and facility levels in the selected project intervention and comparison areas. The primary data for the survey are collected from ever-married women (15-49), children (0-59 months), and adult men (18+).
According to the demands of varying studies, survey instruments are followed, which include community questionnaires, household questionnaires, and women questionnaires. For assessment purposes, Mitra also does biomarker testing and anthropometric measures. Biomarker testing, which includes BP glucose test, is mainly examined for 18+ adults. Mitra’s core elements of anthropometric measurement covered in different studies are height, weight (under-five children, adults 18+), head circumference, and MUAC.
There are several challenges that M&A faces in collecting reliable data from the field level, predominantly rural areas. People in those areas are concerned about things such as laying their children on the wood. Resistance generally comes from the mother’s side, making it difficult for the health technician to take particular measurements of a child. Besides this concern, other religious stigmas increase the refusal rate regarding child measurement.
Sometimes equipment given by clients does not come in a good functioning manner. This makes data collection challenging for the field staff, especially when the equipment stops working during a field visit. However, the data collection team is qualified enough to contact their supervisor for instructions to ensure reliable data collection.
Sometimes local community becomes stiff to provide information because of the numerous NGOs these days. They doubt the purpose of the data collection and restrict themselves from cooperating. The local government sometimes also does not provide the expected support and looks for a confirmation letter from the government.
Despite these challenges, M&A makes sure to hire eligible and experienced people. The organization understands the data’s sensitivity and its significance in every study. Special training is given to the anthropometric information taker, and new field workers, without any minimum experience, are generally not hired.