The Health and Family Welfare Minister on Wednesday floated the idea
of engaging schoolgirls in identifying pregnant women in rural
Bangladesh to ensure safe births.
“We should see whether we can engage girl students of the ninth or
10th grade or those at college in identifying pregnant women,” AFM
Ruhal Haque said at a workshop in Dhaka.
He said he already started such an initiative at a small scale in Satkhira.
Birth at home with the help of unskilled attendants is a major cause
of maternal deaths in Bangladesh.
The minister said students can easily notify a new pregnancy to the
government field staff. “Once identified, it will be easy for us to
assist the mother.”
The Maternal Mortality Survey 2010 showed birth-time deaths of mother
fell to 194 per 100,000 in 2010 from 322 in 2001. The advancement put
Bangladesh on Millennium Development Goal-5 track.
The survey, however, showed more than 70 percent women deliver babies
at home mostly at the hands of unskilled birth attendants, who exert
force while removing the placenta, which attaches the unborn baby
inside the womb with the mother.
Any incomplete removal of the placenta can trigger bleeding after
childbirth and the survey found that 31 percent women died of such
To encourage mothers to come out of home during deliveries, the
government has launched a number of initiatives including
round-the-clock normal delivery services at its 559 upgraded union
health and family welfare centres, at least one in each upazila, in
January this year.
After 11 months, the Directorate General of Family Planning recorded
32,123 normal deliveries at those centres at remote villages.
Minister Haque on Wednesday awarded seven best performing centres in
seven divisions. They include Shibpasha Union Health and Family
Welfare Centre in difficult-to-reach Ajmiriganj under Sylhet division.
The centre has been seen a ‘model’ of government and NGO collaboration.
Inspired by the success of the initiative, the minister said existing
infrastructure and manpower in Bangladesh would be enough for lowering
maternal deaths ‘if we can ensure coordinated services’.
He suggested encouraging women to deliver babies at health facilities
‘overcoming cultural barriers.’
Experts, however, said it would be difficult for a country like
Bangladesh to manage all deliveries in hospitals.
“We should concentrate on safe delivery and proper referral system. If
we can do it, even childbirth at home is not a problem,” Dr Jebun
Nessa Rahman, Reproductive Health Adviser at USAID’s global health
flagship MCHIP, told bdnews24.com.
She said trained attendants can help in childbirth at home while s
strong referral system should be in place so that complicated cases
can be referred.
Earlier, the government introduced a number of initiatives including
use of mobile phone to track would-be mothers at risk.