Dramatic Fall in Maternal Mortality in Bangladesh

February 16, 2011
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How BRAC has contributed to saving Bangladeshi mothersOn February 13, 2011, Bangladeshis woke up to some wonderful news: a significant nationwide Maternal Mortality Survey showed that Bangladesh has achieved tremendous improvement in reducing maternal mortality in the last 9 years – a whopping 40% drop, from 322 to 194 per 100,000 live births, putting the nation on track to meet the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 by 2015. Percentage-wise, the rate of decline is about 5.5 percent each year on average, 0.1 percentage point lower than the required 5.4 percent for attaining MDG 5.

How BRAC has contributed to saving Bangladeshi mothersOn February 13, 2011, Bangladeshis woke up to some wonderful news: a significant nationwide Maternal Mortality Survey showed that Bangladesh has achieved tremendous improvement in reducing maternal mortality in the last 9 years – a whopping 40% drop, from 322 to 194 per 100,000 live births, putting the nation on track to meet the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 by 2015. Percentage-wise, the rate of decline is about 5.5 percent each year on average, 0.1 percentage point lower than the required 5.4 percent for attaining MDG 5.

“The improvement (in maternal mortality combat rates) is due to several factors including medical, socio-economical and demographic,” said Peter Kim Streatfield of ICDDR,B announcing the survey results. Reduction in the number of child marriages and an increase in education for women have also been credited with the improvement.

As an organisation with a holistic approach towards development BRAC has been working for four decades to improve the health awareness of the poor, women in particular. So BRAC takes this opportunity to congratulate not only its participants and staff, but also the government, other NGOs, and all who contributed to achieving this remarkable feat.

Since its establishment in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC has targeted various interventions towards the improvement of women’s reproductive health – these included health interventions such as improving nutrition, family planning, ante and post natal check ups as well as empowerment interventions such as reducing early marriage etc. As with other successful interventions, BRAC scaled up these programmes throughout the country.

In 2007, with the help of development partners, BRAC started concentrating its efforts on improving maternal, neonatal and child mortality in specific urban and rural areas through two projects – Manoshi in urban areas and Improving Maternal, Neonatal and Child Survival (IMNCS) in rural areas. The programmes comprise a well supervised system of ante and post natal care with trained community health workers and a well functioning referral system to health clinics for complicated cases. IMNCS currently reaches 20 million women in 10 districts while Manoshi reaches 5.7 million women in slums across Dhaka and 5 other city corporations and in addition provides access to safe and hygienic birthing huts as alternatives to home delivery.

For the period of 2007-2010, in areas where Manoshi operates, monitoring of progress shows reduction in home delivery from 86% to 25%, a neonatal mortality of 14 (per 1000 births) and maternal mortality of 162 (per 100,000 births). In the IMNCS areas, progress over the same period shows increase in hospital delivery from 15 to 30%, and reduction of maternal mortality to 157 per 100,000 cases.

Bangladesh is well placed to achieving the MDG 5 target for Maternal Mortality Rate of 143 per 100,000 live births by 2015. However, BRAC recognises that as factors convene to improve MMR, achieving the remaining percentage drop will be most challenging. BRAC looks to work in partnership with the government and other NGOs to overcome this challenge.

To learn more about BRAC’s Health Programs, click here.

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