12,000 mothers, 1.2 lakh newborn babies die a year: Unicef report

Posted: জানুয়ারি 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

Although the country has made significant progress in reducing child mortality, the rate of maternal and newborn mortality still remains high, according to a Unicef report.

About 12,000 mothers and 120,000 newborn babies die every year in the country, said the report titled ‘State of the World’s Children 2009’ which was launched at a city hotel yesterday.

In Bangladesh, only 18 percent of births are attended by medically trained providers while 85 percent of births took place at home and only one in five mothers and newborn children receive postnatal care from a medically trained provider within 42 days after birth.

Around 99 percent of global deaths arising from pregnancy and complications occur in the developing world where having a child remains among the most serious health risks for women. The vast majority occur in Africa and Asia, where high fertility rates, a shortage of trained personnel and weak health systems spell tragedy for many young women, the report said.

At the report launching ceremony, speakers stressed the need for stronger efforts to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in order to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.

Speaking as the chief guest, Secretary for Health and Family Welfare Sheikh Altaf Ali said, “Lowering a mother’s risk of mortality and morbidity directly improves a child’s prospects for survival.”

“The government is investing utmost efforts to improve the maternal and newborn health and recently the national neonatal health strategy has been developed,” he said, adding that the National Maternal Health Strategy is being updated.

“We seek to work together with all concerned stakeholders, including communities, development partners, professional organisations, NGOs, private sector, civil society and the media in order to accelerate progress.”

Speaking as the special guest, Prof Dr Shah Monir Hossain, director general of DGHS, said the government has taken steps to integrate community-based interventions in order to reach out to mothers and newborns.

“The National Nutrition programme has extensive activities in 109 upazilas and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is also piloting demand side financing in the form of maternal health voucher scheme in 33 upazilas to increase poor women’s access to utilisation of quality maternal and neonatal services,” He added.

Unicef Representative Carel de Rooy called for a continuum of care approach by linking facility-based care with communities and households and delivering integrated services from antenatal care to postnatal care and early childhood.

“There have been important actions and interventions taken by the government of Bangladesh such as equipping hospitals with comprehensive emergency obstetric care. But addressing the health worker shortage is probably the main challenge that needs to be overcome if we want to reduce maternal and neonatal health,” he said.

Appreciated the current efforts to revitalise community clinics, Carel Rooy also urged the government to conduct a new maternal health survey in order to obtain updated data and to design evidence-based programmes.

The report mentioned the ten countries with the highest lifetime risk of maternal death — Niger, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Chand, Angola, Liberia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau and Mali.

To lower maternal and infant mortality, the report recommends essential services be provided through health systems that integrate a continuum of home, community, outreach and facility-based care.

The daily star 30.01.2009

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