Midwifery in Bangladesh: The Facts
- Each year there are 5,090,000 pregnancies and this is expected to increase by 20% by 2030.
- 72% of child-bearing women live in rural areas where healthcare access is limited or non-existent.
- To achieve universal access to sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn care, 4.3 million pregnancies per year need attending to by a trained health professional.
- Only 41% of the current health workforce is available to women to provide necessary maternal and newborn health interventions.
- There are currently no midwives in Bangladesh.
- Bangladesh is currently training 500 midwives in the next 4 years through the Community-based Midwifery Diploma Programme- it is calculated that throughout their 30 year career span these midwives will drive down maternal mortality from 194 to 35/100,000; infant mortality from 52 to 12/1,000 and save 36,178 lives.
- Investing in midwives in Bangladesh yields a 16.2 return.
Source: Sate of the World’s Midwifery 2014
Student Spotlight: Ayesha Khatun
Ayesha Khatun is from Muhuri Para, Jhilongjha, Cox’s Bazar Sadar, Cox’s Bazar. She is from a family of seven. Her father, Surut Alam, is a day laborer and he is the main provider of their family. Her mother is active in encouraging her children to continue their education despite their socioeconomic status, which is quite unique. Ayesha is the only person who has completed higher secondary in her family therefore no one could guide her to study science which could have been helpful from the beginning, she recollects. She says she is fortunate to be able to participate in this programme as students are accepted on a more rounded basis irrespective of academic background alone.
Upon graduation she wants to work in her community and she expects that it will bring positive changes in her life. She believes if she can graduate as a skilled midwife, community people will accept her which will open the door to help the community people; and this in turn will appear as a source of income as well to change her life. In her community she reports many welcome this profession no matter how old she is; to them, knowledge and skill matter the most to provide needed services.
Ayesha was found knowledgeable about the healthcare services in her community where currently no midwives or nurses exist. Ayesha strongly believes she and one of her classmates can play a pivotal role in their community. She talks about the low level of hygiene and sanitation that causes diarrhea and other bacterial diseases which plague younger children the most and how she can address these issues. Ayesha looks forward to being financially independent and leading a positive life in her community. She is grateful the opportunity has provided her with.
HOPE’s Midwifery Education Program
HOPE Foundation is training Bangladesh’s first class of midwives as part of a “hub and spoke” program titled “Community-based Midwifery Diploma Program”. This program is funded by the British Department for International Development and in partnership with BRAC University; HOPE, selected as a “spoke” institution, began training the first class of 30 midwives in 2013.
The program is a three-year intensive course with a combined classroom and field-based training. All of the students selected to be a part of this program are local to Cox’s Bazar, to provide the best assurance that these girls will remain local upon graduation to meet the high needs of maternal care in the remote areas. This program could not be more critical to cox’s Bazar given that over 90% of women give birth at home, without the attendance of a skilled healthcare worker.
There is furthermore little knowledge on the importance of antenatal and postnatal care, maternal nutrition or family planning. It is HOPE’s goal to deploy these midwives into the rural villages of Cox’s Bazar upon graduation to serve as the epicenters of maternal health in their communities. These midwives will truly make a difference in saving the lives of mothers and their babies, as well as transitioning delivery from a risk to a beautiful experience. Midwives are the solution for improving Bangladesh’s maternal health.