Photo: Colin Crowley/Save the Children
Paramedic Nasrin Aktar examines six-day-old newborn girl Popi Aktar for her first postnatal checkup. Popi’s mother Sheuli, 21, also received her first post-partum checkup since giving birth to Popi in the Shibpasa clinic. They have come from the nearby village of Shantipur, Bangladesh. At the clinic women like Sheuli are able to receive proper medical care throughout their pregnancy, give birth in the clinic under the supervision of trained professionals, and receive post-partum checkups while their newborns receive post-natal checkups like this one.
According to A Decade of Change for Newborn Survival, Bangladesh has as a 4% annual reduction in the neonatal mortality rate. This rate is double the regional and global averages over the last decade. From 2000 to 2010, newborn deaths decreased from 143,000 to 83,000 a year. Also over the last decade, extensive changes have occurred in health policy related to newborn care, including a National Neonatal Health Strategy.
The initial focus for newborn care was primarily through community-based initiatives. 80% of pregnant women live in rural areas, but models to service the growing urban poor population are urgently needed as well.
Going forward, future gains for newborn survival in Bangladesh rest upon increased implementation at scale and greater consistency in content and quality of programmes and services. Even moderate increases in outreach interventions (20%), such as postnatal care, could save up to 7000 newborn lives in 2015.