May 7, 2013 by Oscar Abello
This is Moyna. Living in Dhaka’s Kunipara slum, her community health promoter microfranchise covers around 200 households. She sells basic health services as well as a range of products at affordable prices for her neighbors.
The BRAC Birthing Kit, for example, she purchases wholesale from a BRAC social enterprise at 42 cents apiece, which she retails at 52 cents. Saline and iron tablets are typical top-sellers for Moyna and her fellow community health promoters.
Moyna is one of almost 100,000 women BRAC has trained so far as community health promoters in Bangladesh. Training includes an initial 10- to 18-day intensive course, plus mandatory one- or two-day monthly refresher sessions for as long as promoters choose to remain part of the program.
One community health promoter may cover as many as 250 households in her area, visiting or checking-in with about a dozen households per day.
Community health promoters in targeted countries like Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Liberia also receive specialized training in maternal health care and attending home births. Focusing on prenatal and postnatal care, these community health promoters identify pregnant women within their community and offer preventive and early treatment of malaria and diarrhea. BRAC has also developed a financial incentive system for reliable reporting of new pregnancies, as well as key pregnancy milestones and complications as they arise.
Thanks to Moyna and other local leaders like her, BRAC has been credited with playing a major role reducing maternal mortality in Bangladesh from 800 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to just 194 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2011.
In honor of mothers around the world, this week leading up to Mother’s Day in the United States, BRAC USA has launched a campaign called No Mother Stands Alone to rally support for adapting BRAC’s proven maternal health program in Bangladesh to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which count for 19 of the top 20 highest nationwide maternal mortality rates in the world. It’s a campaign to achieve a world where no mother stands alone by empowering local leaders like Mayna to provide access to reliable, trustworthy maternal health services to mothers in some of the world’s poorest places.
Visit NoMotherStandsAlone.org today to watch a video about BRAC’s maternal health program, which is saving lives in the slums of Dhaka. You can join our campaign by tweeting your support using the hashtag #NoMotherStandsAlone, donating via Catapult to BRAC’s maternal health work, or by recording a greeting to your mother and all mothers around the world using just your Facebook account and a webcam. And you can find out more ways to help us spread the word about the campaign by following the hashtag #NoMotherStandsAlone on Twitter.
Most urgently as part of the campaign, from now until Mother’s Day, generous donors have pledged to match your contributions dollar-for-dollar via Catapult to BRAC’s maternal health work in countries like Sierra Leone, where one in seven women dies from pregnancy or childbirth related causes.
Women like Moyna are standing up to stem the tide of maternal mortality around the world. Will you stand with them?
This article has been edited to reflect the correct spelling of the BRAC community health promoter, Moyna. She was previously referred to incorrectly as Mayna.