Strengthened union health facilities could transform Bangladesh’s maternal and newborn health situation

Strengthening the union level health facilities could be key to achieving the country’s ambitious targets related to curbing maternal and newborn mortality rates. The participants of a national meeting held on August 17th , 2016 suggested that the upcoming Health Nutrition Population Sector Program due to come into effect in 2017 prioritize strengthening of the union facilities to ensure universal access to life-saving maternal and newborn care services.

The national meeting organized in the city’s Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel by the Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP) with support from USAID’s MaMoni HSS project was meant to share the findings of a national assessment of all the union facilities in Bangladesh. The assessment argues that a significant number of these primary level facilities can provide normal delivery services with minor to moderate level inputs.

The speakers that included top officials of the ministry, DGFP and Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), thought that the database built as part of the assessment containing detailed information about 4,461 union facilities would be immensely helpful to plan their development programs.

Dr. Ishtiaq Mannan, Deputy Country Director, Save the Children in Bangladesh, presented the key findings of the assessment and highlighted the importance of an equitable progress in the availability and utilization of essential maternal care, specially delivery services. He showed that though 37% of the deliveries take place at the facility, the progress is not equitable across the region with Sylhet and Chittagong lagging much behind the national level.

Mohammed Nasim, MP, Minister, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOH&FW) as well as Chief Guest of the ceremony, appreciated the effort of DGFP and thanked MaMoni HSS and USAID for supporting this huge undertaking. He directed the secretary and the chiefs of DGFP and DGHS, to take into cognizance the findings of the assessment and consult the recommendations while working out the way forward for the health sector.

Zahid Maleque, MP, State Minister, MOH&FW, Syed Monjurul Islam, Secretary, MOH&FW, Professor Dr. Deen Mohd Noorul Huq, DG, DGHS, Melissa Jones, Director, Office of Population Health, Nutrition and Education (OPHNE), USAID, Dr. M. Iqbal Arslan, Secretary General, Bangladesh Medical Association, spoke at the meeting as special guests.

Mohammed Wahid Hossain, ndc, Director General, DGFP, chaired the meeting. Earlier Dr. Mohammad Sharif, Director, MCH Services, DGFP, made a welcome speech while Joby George, Chief of Party, MaMoni HSS Project, thanked the participants. Dr. Fahmida Sultana, Deputy Director (MCH Services) unit, DGFP, made a presentation on the background of the assessment of the union level facilities carried out by the DGFP.

The meeting saw participation of around 200 participants representing the MOH&FW, DGFP, DGHS, UN agencies, other development partners, INGOs, professional bodies, and members of the print and electronic media.

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