Nijhum Dwip looks forward to a healthy future
“I would deliver at home as I did before,“ Shaheena said when she was asked what she would do if the health center were not there. Shaheena had her second baby at the Nijhum Dwip (an island in Hatiya Upazila on the south of Bangladesh) Union Health and Family Welfare Centre(UH&FWC) on the day the facility started functioning.
For Shaheena, delivering at a health facility was hardly an option. Shaheena lives in Madina Gram (village) in Nijhum Dwip Union of Hatiya Upazila and getting to the nearest health facility in Jahajmara takes at least 2-3 hours’ journey that can be rough and expensive. For about 30,000 people who call Nijhum Dwip their home, ‘delivery at home’ had therefore been the only choice.
On November 1, the remote island union got its first health centre equipped with a range of basic healthcare provisions including normal delivery services. Six weeks later, the Nijhum Dwip UH&FWC started providing 24/7 delivery services. Now the people of Nijhum Dwip, one of the hardest-to-reach areas in Bangladesh, have the option to avail safe and free delivery services by trained service providers round-the-clock.
Dr. Md Sharif, Director, Maternal and Child Health, DGFP, inaugurated the 24/7 delivery service in presence of Dr. Jahangir Alam Sarkar, Line Director, Maternal and Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (MNCAH), DGHS, Dr. Sukumar Sarker, Senior Technical and Policy Advisor, OPHNE, USAID and Joby George, Chief of Party, MaMoni HSS Project.
The establishment of Nijhum Dwip UH&FWC represents a novel initiative undertaken by the District Family Planning and Local Ggovernment Departments with MaMoni Health Systems Strengthening (MaMoni HSS) Project playing the facilitation role. Instead of constructing a new building, they converted part of a shelter center to house this health facility.
MaMoni HSS Project has strived to engage the local government institutions as a means to step up for strengthening the union health facilities, and establishment of Nijhum Dwip UH&FWC has been part of that initiative. The project has actively motivated and advocated for the Union/Upazila Parishads to play an oversight role to ensure accountability of the health service providers besides mobilizing resources for strengthening of the facilities. In Hatiya, local government authorities had supported to establish six 24/7 delivery centers, contributing to significant increase of deliveries conducted by Skilled Birth Attendants.