Photo By: Eugene Lee/World Vision is licensed under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.
Battling Infant & Maternal Mortality
According to the United Nations, more than 5,500 women in Bangladesh die in pregnancy and childbirth each year. That’s 8% of total deaths among women of childbearing age.
Women and children in southwest Bangladesh face many risks that increase their vulnerability, including reduced access to proper healthcare facilities and information. Early marriage, early first pregnancy, and closely-spaced subsequent pregnancies and births are among the most frequent causes of infant and maternal mortality in developing countries.
But Nobo Jatra—a five-year program funded by USAID and implemented by World Vision and Winrock International in partnership with the World Food Program and the government of Bangladesh—is working to save women’s lives in southwest Bangladesh. Through the program, citizens of Chunkuri, Bangladesh, advocated to their government for improvements to their local community clinic. Now, Chunkuri mothers can receive pre- and postnatal care in a clean, up-to-date government facility rather than having to pay more and travel farther to a private clinic.
They can also meet with Jotika Roy, the clinic’s Family Welfare Assistant. Among other services, Jotika advises families about their options regarding the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies. “I love to talk with couples,” says Jotika. “I like to see the healthy children with the couple.” When Jotika provides advice to couples, she helps them select an appropriate contraceptive method and offers instruction on how to use these methods safely and effectively.
Programs promoting healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies could prevent as many as one-third of maternal deaths by enabling women to delay their first pregnancy to at least age 18, space pregnancies two to five years apart, protect women from unplanned pregnancy, and limit childbearing to a mother’s healthiest years. “In our area, almost 80% of people are using these methods,” says Jotika.
Jotika has been working at the Chunkuri clinic for nearly eight years—before the Nobo Jatra program began—helping the people of Chunkuri advocate to the government for a better facility and services. “Before, if a mother wanted to go for a health visit, they went to private doctors,” says Jotika. “Now, people will come to the community clinic.”