Ending preventable child deaths in Bangladesh – A promise renewed!

I have had 11 pregnancies but I only have eight children – three of my babies died in childbirth. I gave birth to all my children at home because I could not access any health clinics to give birth to them there,” said Mamota, a 40-year-old housewife who lives in a remote village in north east Bangladesh.

This is a story we hear over and over again from many women all over Bangladesh. Each time, we are struck with the fact that most of these deaths could have been prevented.

Bangladesh has made significant strides in reducing preventable child deaths, by achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals 4, and recently the government of Bangladesh has recommitted to end all preventable child deaths. It has signed on to a road map to institute the evidence-based interventions and measures necessary to reduce preventable deaths by over 80,000 annually by 2035 – A Promise Renewed!

At this year’s UN General Assembly, it is vital that we reiterate these promises for children. This year’s meeting will further shape the post-2015 development agenda that will be reached by the world’s developing countries to help improve the quality of life for their people. As ambitious as ending preventable child deaths sounds, it is achievable with sufficient political will, even for the most fragile children – newborns.

Until recently, many believed that little could be done to prevent newborn deaths in poor countries such as Bangladesh. But Save the Children’s “State of the World’s Mothers” report, launched in May this year, revealed that four low cost interventions can save more than a million lives worldwide if they were made universally available with health workers that are trained to deliver such interventions.

And it could spare Mamota and thousands of mothers in Bangladesh the grief of losing a child.

“Mothers faced serious hardship and many mothers and babies often died during childbirth,” she said. “We tried to band together as mothers to help any woman in labour who was in trouble. However, because we are not trained and do not know how best to perform a delivery, we would sometimes make things worse by trying to force the child out.”

“As a consequence, sometimes babies would get seriously injured and die inside the mother, which would often mean the mothers also died from the trauma.”

It has been proven that child deaths can be reduced by at least two-thirds with political will. With 18,000 lives on the line every day, more investment in newborn and child health is needed to ensure that Mamota’s children will not have to grief over the loss of a child.

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