Local leaders’ influence helps safe child birth in rural Bangladesh
Nurul Islam Hasib back from Sylhet bdnews24.com
Published: 2016-12-14 23:54:31.0 BdST Updated: 2016-12-15 12:27:24.0 BdST
The family planning wing of the government has adopted a policy to use local government leaders’ influence in ensuring 24/7 normal delivery services and child care at the village level facilities.
How is it possible? A Save the Children project shows the way.
Few months back Rustampur Union Health and Family Welfare Centre in a bordering upazilla of Gowainghat under north-eastern Sylhet district ran out of iron pills which are essential for pregnant women.
Local Union Parishad chairman Mohammad Shahabuddin turned up and bought 100,000 iron pills from his own budget.
“Otherwise we had to wait for months for the government’s supply. We can’t predict when the supply reaches the village,” the family planning inspector of the Centre Md Hossain Ali told bdnews24.com.
Iron is important for pregnant women to support the healthy growth of the unborn baby.
The chairman is also “happy” as he could manage to help the mothers of his area.
“We have funds in Union Parishad for some health and education related activities. If chairmen are aware of that, they can help in many ways,” Ali told bdnews24.com during a recent visit.
The Centre was housed in a dilapidated building until August. Women never come for delivery services because of its poor conditions. But that has been changed completely now.
A Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Save the Children funded project, Mamota Project, renovated the building and provided additional manpower and necessary supplies and equipment to make it functional.
The Project is aimed at ensuring quality maternal, newborn health and family planning services at the community levels, using the existing government platform in Sylhet districts.
All the necessary equipment including autoclave, urine and blood test facilities for pregnant women, access to which is still unthinkable in many upazilla level hospitals, were also provided.
They made the relevant Union Parishad committees functional and engaged the local community for monitoring and supervision. A referral link has also been established to transfer those who need surgical deliveries to the hospital in the town.
The Family Welfare Visitor or FWV who carries out normal delivery, and the additional paramedics deployed by the project reside in the Centre so that they can attend child birth anytime.
The chairman said until August, most of the deliveries were taking place at home in the village. It takes Tk 3,000 transport cost just to take a would-be-mother to the hospital in nearby town.
“Now things have changed. Mothers are coming here for check-ups and deliveries”.
The FWV, Shamsun Nahar, said up to 15 normal deliveries took place at the centre in a month.
Dr. Mohammad Sharif, Director Maternal and Child Health of the Directorate General of Family Planning Services, told bdnews24.com that his department also involved local government leaders in many other facilities across Bangladesh.
“Their (Save the Children) performance is very good because of their good monitoring and supervision. We also want to ensure 24/7 normal delivery services, treatment of the under-5 children and strong referral linkages at all Union facilities in the country. And for that we are involving the local government leaders,” he said
“Our aim is to stop home delivery which is always risky. If we can do that, we can stop all preventable maternal deaths,” he said.
Only 38 percent women give birth with the help of skilled hands in Bangladesh. The maternal mortality ratio is 170 per 100,000 live births, according to government statistics.
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