Selfless’ Elective Aid programme empowers UK students to enable access to free healthcare to underserved rural communities in Bangladesh.

Between 16th and 30th August 2016, Selfless’ team of volunteers from across the UK undertook the two-week Elective Aid programme in Sylhet District in Northeast Bangladesh.

The Selfless volunteers supported local doctors to provide free healthcare attention to over 1,000 patients in the villages of Lalabazar and Fulshaind.

Selfless “Health Camps”, advertised through collaboration with local community organisations, provide high-volume, low-cost access to primary care services, often inaccessible to poorer rural populations.

Bangladesh has taken great strides forward in improving health outcomes since 2000, meeting the Millennium Development Goal targets for Child Mortality. Nevertheless, access to health services remains strongly associated with income, and 64% of all health expenditure in Bangladesh is out-of-pocket, meaning that patients often have to pay for their treatment up front. For rural populations, for whom even travelling to healthcare facilities can be prohibitively expensive, treatment costs provide significant barriers to access.

Elective Aid combines a vital service with patients with a structured two-week global health leadership programme for medical student volunteers. In addition to delivering healthcare, the volunteers visited a range of healthcare institutions ranging from small rural clinics to large public hospitals, interviewing directors, community health workers and global health officials. Selfless’ goal is to inspire and equip the next generation of global health leaders and create long-term health links.

Sultana Aktar, final year medical student at University College London and Elective Aid 2016 volunteer had the following to say:

“Elective Aid 2016 was a very special experience. I have raised money for charities before, but this was the first time I was able to observe the impact my money was making first hand.

It was a unique opportunity to gain both clinical and cultural exposure to a developing country. I have left the programme with improved clinical competencies, better communications skills, great memories, and a beautiful group of friends.”

Photo: Medical Students Left to Right, Top – Israa Fawaz, Toby Noton. Science Student – Cheetah Ahmed and Selfless UK Sam Atwell & Akmam Chowdhury. Bottom: Medical students, Azraa Khatun, Shayra Khanom, Sultana Aktar.



Notes to Editors:

  1. Elective Aid is Selfless’ global health leadership programme designed primarily for UK medical students. Elective Aid works with local doctors, and healthcare delivery partners, to reach rural underserved communities and provide free healthcare. The programme was established in 2009 and has previously been supported by the Department for International Development.
  2. Selfless is a social enterprise, led by young people, with a mission to create effective, innovative, and sustainable solutions to our most pressing challenges in healthcare.
  3. Selfless is a registered charity in England & Wales (1147463). For more information please contact or call 0203 372 6278.

UK students provide access to free healthcare in rural Bangladesh

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