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Reducing newborn deaths in Bangladesh

"We gathered together in central Dhaka to hear about the great work that PCP has been doing mobilising communities through women’s groups to reduce maternal and newborn deaths by over one third!   Not only have death rates reduced but safe practices in delivery and newborn care have also increased."

Panel Discussion at Perinatal Care DisseminationRuth Duebbert, Women and Children First's Policy and Advocacy Manager, writes:

I’ve just returned from my sixth trip to Bangladesh where I had the great pleasure to catch up with our partners at the Perinatal Care Project (PCP) as well as other partners from India, Nepal and Malawi.

This trip was a very special one. We flew in to attend a high level event with government ministers, representatives from UNICEF, UNFPA, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Bangladeshi civil society.  We gathered together in central Dhaka to hear about the great work that PCP has been doing mobilising communities through women’s groups to reduce maternal and newborn deaths by over one third!   Not only have death rates reduced but safe practices in delivery and newborn care have also increased.

PCP has achieved these great results by focusing on community mobilisation through participatory women’s groups to reduce maternal and newborn deaths; strengthening health care systems and working with key partners, policy makers and stakeholders to ensure ownership, commitment and sustainability of community mobilisation initiatives and through influencing maternal, newborn and child health policy in Bangladesh, in Asia and globally.
Amazingly, taken to scale, the women's groups approach in Bangladesh only costs $220 to $261 per life averted. Donors take note!

Professor Kishwar Azad, the Director the Perinatal Care project said “Community mobilisation was empowering and very popular. A lot of NGOs pay cash to get women to attend meetings. In our groups, women received no incentives but they still attend. Women members have become skilled in conducting the meetings themselves. Many of them participated in the local elections and became members of local unions.”

In response Dr Captain Mozibur Rahman Fakir, Honourable State Minister, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of Bangladesh, commended the PCP and recommended the uptake of the women's groups approach by others.

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world but fewer than 40% of the population have access to basic healthcare. Poor availability of quality health care, including maternity care, a lack of facilities, trained health care providers and medicines, and low responsiveness of services are all issues of concern in Bangladesh, particularly in rural areas.

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