Asma Akhter had her first child at the age of 15. She had little knowledge on infant, young and child feeding (IYCF) practices and used to believe in superstitions and social taboos regarding child care. She had avoided breastfeeding her daughter within one hour of birth and had wrongly fed other lacteals during her child’s first six months.
BRAC has been recruiting and training shasthya shebikas, frontline community health promoters, in Bangladesh since 1972. Currently 97,000 shasthya shebikas and an additional 10,000 shasthya kormis, frontline community health workers, are providing a multitude of health services to Bangladesh’s communities. For tuberculosis (TB), they provide TB information, identify TB cases and administer directly observed treatment short- course (DOTS).
Whenever we think about health services, the things that typically come to mind are doctors, paramedics, nurses or even hospitals. In Bangladesh, for decades women have been creating a new norm for how primary health care can look by delivering health care services using a door-to-door approach without the typical doctor, paramedic or even nurse. Besides providing basic health care services, these women are expanding their communities’ perceptions of women’s potential and importance in society.