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Schoolgirls to help safe rural births

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

post-delivery bleeding.

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

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.


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