Navigation auf


ISEK - Institut für Sozialanthropologie und Empirische Kulturwissenschaft Ethnologie

Ethnographic Research Internship (3 months in 2020 or 2021) in a Swisscontact Project on Promoting Health Care in Rural Areas in Bangladesh

We are looking for a highly motivated anthropology master student to conduct ethnographic research within the ongoing ASTHA project (Achieving Sustainability Towards Healthcare Access) in Bangladesh of the NGO Swisscontact. The focus of the ethnographic exploration are impacts and changes in everyday life for people in communities that are part of the program and how their choices of using more modern health care service interact with more “traditional” social structures. Of particular interest are also women community members’ and women community paramedics’ perspectives, their choices and agency along with their interactions with power structures in receiving and providing quality health care at the last mile in rural areas.

Project Description

ASTHA was introduced in 2011 to increase youth employment through training and developing skilled Community Paramedics (CPs) and improve access to quality healthcare services in rural Bangladesh. The latest phase (2019 – 2022) is designed to facilitate the further improvement and popularisation of CP services to assure high-quality Basic Primary Healthcare services including Maternal and Child Health and Family Planning. It is jointly funded by Novartis and Swisscontact (see:

Massive shortage of medically trained healthcare providers in rural communities is a crude reality for Bangladesh. There are alarmingly 0.66 healthcare providers per 1000 population in the country while the WHO recommendation is 2.28 per 1000 population. Despite this huge gap in workforce, the burgeoning youth population (15 to 25 years) in Bangladesh is suffering from acute unemployment and underemployment. As a result of the project’s previous efforts, the CP Training Program is now an established 2-year course offered to youth by private and public training institute and governed by Bangladesh Nursing and Midwifery Council under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Your Research

While the project is professionally assessed and evaluated by Swisscontact within the usual structured measurement process, Swisscontact is keen to go beyond that and is interested in an anthropological study assessing the political-economic, social and cultural changes due to the skilled healthcare provider project. It seeks to develop an understanding of the wider impact of promoting quality health care and increased youth employment and income. What has changed in the life of young Community Paramedics? How do young healthcare providers make choices and enact agency? How do they interact with changing power structures? What has changed for people in rural communities due to community paramedic services? What has changed for other providers of health care services? These are only a few of the questions that might lead an ethnographic exploration of the broader political-economic changes in interventions that aim to develop skilled Community Paramedics and improve access to quality healthcare services.

The chosen student will be encouraged to develop an independent research project during spring semester (in the Masterseminar Methoden) within the framework of the Swisscontact ASTHA project. This research would ideally culminate in their master’s thesis in social and cultural anthropology (Ethnologie) at the University of Zurich.

Research will be partly funded by the project (contribution to board and lodging, translators, and research assistant) and access will be facilitated by the local partners in the project. Supervision will be provided by ISEK-Social Anthropology.

The student is encouraged to participate in the activities related to Bangladesh provided by ISEK-Social Anthropology (e.g. Regionalmodul FS 2020 and excursion in 2020).

If you are interested in applying for this research internship please send a short CV and a letter outlining your motivation and a preliminary research idea to by mid-February 2020.