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Cooperative societies: a sustainable platform for promoting universal health coverage in Bangladesh
  1. Abdur Razzaque Sarker1,2,
  2. Marufa Sultana1,
  3. Rashidul Alam Mahumud1
  1. 1Health Economics & Financing Research, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), Dhaka, Bangladesh
  2. 2University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Abdur Razzaque Sarker; arazzaque{at}

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  • Achieving Universal Health Coverage is among the core objectives of the health Sustainable Development Goals, and making healthcare affordable to everyone is fundamental to achieving Universal Health Coverage.

  • Cooperative societies are autonomous groups of persons who voluntarily cooperate for their common economic interest, based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy and equality, equity and solidarity.

  • There are 190 360 cooperatives in Bangladesh, and the total individual enrolees are 10 333 310 (with about 160 million people covered when spouses or dependents of enrolees are taken into account). Given this large pool, cooperative societies could be a platform to engage a large number of people regarding healthcare financing.

  • Cooperative societies act as a risk management strategy for members, working on the basic principle of risk pooling during illness. This risk-pooling mechanism can mitigate the consequences of dependence on out-of-pocket payments to finance healthcare, thereby facilitating the move towards Universal Health Coverage.

Bangladesh is among the most densely populated countries in the world and has enjoyed a steady annual economic growth of 5–6% for more than a decade.1 According to the Bangladesh economic review, the incidence of poverty has declined considerably from 56.7% in 1991–1992 to 24.8% in 2015.2 The demographic structure of Bangladesh is changing more rapidly. The population pyramid is slightly narrower at the bottom than the middle, and the youngest age group constitutes more than half of the population.3 In addition, the increasing per capita income has resulted in heightened demand for public and private sector health services. Bangladesh has made good progress in almost all of the …

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