Building government health systems in Bangladesh

Areba Panni

Areba Panni, Advisor-Strategic Communications,
MCHIP/Save the Children

Dhaka, Bangladesh

March 28, 2013


Bangladesh is a low-income nation in South Asia and one of
the most densely populated countries in the world.  Despite this, maternal mortality rates have decreased
by 40 percent since 2001 and the country is on track to achieve the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs)
on reducing maternal and child deaths by 2015. In fact, only eight other countries out of
the 74 that account for most of the maternal and child deaths can claim this
achievement. Maternal deaths remain concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and
South Asia, an indication of global disparities in women’s access to much
needed care during pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period as well as
family planning services.  Bangladesh’s
astonishing progress in the health sector can be credited in part to the
government and communities working together at the district level to deliver
lifesaving assistance to mothers and babies in need.

An innovative safe motherhood project “MaMoni,” meaning
“mother-child,” has been supporting health systems coordination and service
delivery in fifteen sub-districts of rural Bangladesh since 2009.  Funded by the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID)
, the MaMoni project is run by Save the Children in
Bangladesh and two local NGOs, Shimantik and FIVDB, in partnership with Bangladesh’s
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The project aims to integrate household, community, and governmental
efforts to achieve improved health outcomes from the district level down to the
grassroots.  

As part of its reform agenda called “USAID Forward,” USAID is
focused on delivering results in an efficient and sustainable way, by building
the capacity of country governments and by providing more funds to country
governments directly. In Bangladesh, USAID
is boosting the capacity of the government to deliver health services to rural
areas. The agency has aligned its approach
with the government’s health sector strategy and for the first time is
investing $40 million over five years in the Bangladesh government through the
World Bank’s “Single Donor Trust Fund” to support health care and other
sectors. 

AidReform_Mariam BegumThe investment by the
United States and other donors to improve the government’s health service
delivery systems is making a big difference for women facing birth
emergencies. Last year, Mariam Begum,
who was living in a small village, was experiencing pain and heavy bleeding
following the birth of her child. A
local community volunteer, trained by MaMoni staff to recognize severe
conditions like Mariam’s, helped arrange her transport by a water ambulance to the
nearest government-owned health center where she was further evaluated. When the health center was unable to deal
with the severity of her condition, she was transferred to the district
hospital.  Mariam’s life was saved due to
the quick assessment of her condition by a community volunteer and the linkages
between the community and government health workers. 

In addition to facilitating
delivery of emergency services, MaMoni focuses on institution building and
community engagement and will assist the management of 11,000 community clinics
set up by the government in the country to roll out trainings for community
health care providers. MaMoni trains
government health workers to offer women pre- and post- pregnancy counseling,
birth assistance, vaccinations, and counseling on exclusive breastfeeding.

A network of more than 13,000 community volunteers set up and
trained by MaMoni respond to the needs of mothers and newborns, spot cases that
require treatment in health facilities, and help organize local health planning
meetings. The community volunteers collect health information from the
community and meet with frontline government health workers at the end of every
month to update registers. Large wall charts in the government’s family welfare
centers track where pregnant women live, their due dates, and whether they are
experiencing complications that should be monitored.   MaMoni staff are in regular dialogue with
the government to help improve their information systems and service delivery.

Based on these best practices from MaMoni, USAID is working
with other districts to introduce health systems strengthening projects. USAID’s ultimate goal is to demonstrate a
successful model and enable the government of Bangladesh to take it to scale throughout
the country.

USAID’s investments in
government capacity building help to ensure the long-term sustainability of
health programming in Bangladesh beyond the life of MaMoni and other
projects.   With these investments, survival
rates of at-risk mothers like Mariam increase and the coordination between
communities and the government improves the quality of and the access to women’s
health services throughout Bangladesh.

 

Creating Responsible Members of Society

Tahmina HaiderTahmina Haider, Sponsorship Manager

Meherpur District, Bangladesh 

November 8, 2012 



There are around 15,000 sponsored children in Bangladesh. Recently a new initiative was introduced for 600 sponsored children from 70 villages in the Meherpur province to help them grow as leaders and responsible members of their society.

The children received training on important issues affecting them and other children. The training covered a wide array of topics, such as basic communication and facilitation, hygiene and nutrition, child marriage sexual abuse, child labor, drugs and corporal punishment. They also received orientation on sponsorship operations and programs.
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All the children expressed what an amazing experience it was for them and how honored they felt to participate. They are now aware of their rights, needs and responsibilities and will transfer their knowledge to the children in their villages. They believe they will be able to act as change agents for all children in their villages. They also shared that they are now more valued by the adult members of their society.

In the villages the youth leaders are monitoring and helping with a variety of issues, like ensuring that children always wear shoes when going to the toilets and that they maintain good hygiene. They are also observing if children are being mistreated or receive unacceptable punishment in school or at home.

Through this initiative the children are helping Sponsorship Field Officers receive timely updates on children who are not attending school regularly, have stopped participating in the sponsorship program or have moved away. They also help collect drawings, letters and family updates for sponsors.

This all helps Save the Children run our programs more efficiently and successfully while achieving our goal of developing a child friendly world which prepares them as strong and important future leaders and protects them from all kinds of abuse.

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Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more.

Culture Snapshot: Carom – A Favorite Game of Children in Bangladesh

Tahmina Haider Headshot

Tahmina Haider, Sponsorship Manager

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Monday, April 4, 2011


Save the Children has sponsorship programs in over twenty countries in five regions of the world! Our Culture Snapshot series highlights unique elements of local culture from each of the regions our sponsorship programs operate in. We hope you enjoy and will visit again in the coming weeks to learn about each region.Check out the last post "Culture Snapshot: Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas Recipe."

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The game Carom is very popular among adolescent boys in Meherpur, Bangaldesh and a Carom board can be found in many homes. The game is played with two teams and each team picks a color and tries to win chips of that color. The winning team scores points for each opposition chip remaining on the board, and extra points if they can take the special red piece! While playing the game the boys talk about many things like sports, hobbies, and even their problems.
Cultural corner boys playing Carom 2
 Stay tuned for a common game played by children in Egypt—Blind Cat.

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Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more

Not Your Average Teddy Bear

Dhheadshot Dave Hartman, Save the Children, Internet Marketing and Communications Specialist

Westport, CT

Monday, December 6, 2010

 

My favorite stuffed animal from my childhood was a light-blue bear that I dubbed, Bear. Not the most creative name but I was nine-months-old so cut me some slack.

Bear was my best friend for two reasons. One, he always took my side in an argument with my mother. And two, he was always open for a hug. 

The ever-innovative geniuses at IKEA are behind a new initiative to make stuffed animals not just cute, cuddly and good listeners, but advocates of universal education. 


 

In real life they don’t actually make signs, give speeches or march on Washington but the impact is just as powerful. (Disclaimer: No, they are not alive either.)

For every soft toy sold IKEA donates 1 euro to Save the Children and UNICEF to support our education programs. 

In October, four IKEA employees and two IKEA customers traveled to Vietnam and Bangladesh, respectively, to see first hand the problems facing children, their families and communities and the difference that the money raised by the IKEA soft toy campaign is making.

To say the least, they were all wowed: 


 

 


 

Here are some quotes from the video that capture the impact that education can make in children’s lives.

“Investing in education sounds fantastic, but it’s not until you’re here and you see on the ground the difference its making and the positive ripple effect that it has on communities that you understand the difference that’s being made.”

                                             -Keith McLeish, IKEA Edinburgh  

Our children are studying, so their prospects are so much better.They are mixing with good people and are confident and safer.”

                                             -Mother of Bangladeshi student 

“Even to get to school some kids have to travel 10-15 kilometers, and it’s not by car. They have to walk. So even getting to school is a challenge…If that challenge is met by the children then it should be met by us.

                                              -Nigel McGarry, IKEA Belfast

So in honor of my old chum Bear, who now resides in the attic, join the soft toy movement and help every child realize their right to education.