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 upcoming Health Nutrition Population Sector Program 2017-2021 must focus on strengthening of the union level facilities to ensure universal access to life-saving maternal and newborn care services, opined the participants who met at a national meeting held on August 17, 2016.
The national meeting organized in the city’s Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel by the Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOH&FW), with support from USAID’s MaMoni Health Systems Strengthening (MaMoni HSS) Project was meant to share the findings of a national assessment of all the union facilities in Bangladesh and to discuss the way forward to strengthen these facilities to provide round-the-clock maternal and newborn care services. The assessment argues that a significant number of these primary level facilities can provide normal delivery services with minor to moderate level of inputs.
The speakers that included top officials of the MOH&FW, felt that the database built as part of the assessment containing detailed information about 4,461 union facilities would be immensely helpful to plan the specific investments required to improve institutional delivery during the next five years.
Dr. Ishtiaq Mannan, Deputy Country Director, Save the Children in Bangladesh, made the key note presentation, which also included the findings of the assessment, highlighted the importance of an equitable progress in the availability and utilization of essential maternal care, specially, delivery care 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 Barisal divisions lagging behind the national level. He appealed to the minister and senior officials to fulfill the commitment to ensure equitable access to maternal and newborn care services, especially at the primary level of care.
Mr. Mohammed Nasim, MP, Minister, MOH&FW as well as Chief Guest of the meeting, appreciated the effort of DGFP and thanked MaMoni HSS and USAID for supporting this huge undertaking. He directed the Secretary and Director Generals of Family Planning and Health Directorates to take into cognizance the findings of the assessment and consult the recommendations while working out the next HNP Sector Program.
Mr. Zahid Maleque, MP, State Minister, MOH&FW, Syed Monjurul Islam, Secretary, MOH&FW, Prof. (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 Mr. 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 over 200 participants representing the MOH&FW, DGFP, DGHS, UN agencies, other development partners, INGOs, professional bodies, and members of the print and electronic media.