In association with the British High Commission in Bangladesh, the Directorate General of Nursing and Midwifery (DGNM) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organized a dissemination seminar on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, at the auditorium from DGNM in Dhaka, to share the results of two studies on midwifery practice in Bangladesh.
These two independent studies focused on lessons learned from strengthening midwifery practice in Bangladesh and pathways to women’s empowerment through midwifery education. Findings indicate that UK Government support has helped the Government of Bangladesh to increase deployment and use of trained midwives, which has significantly improved women’s access to safe childbirth over the past three years. In 2021, midwives, deployed in 403 Upazila Health Complexes (UzHCs), performed 87% of the total deliveries in these UzHCs. In 2018, the percentage was only 24.
The studies also found that existing midwifery training in Bangladesh is effective and helps to sharpen social and counseling skills, and improve midwives’ interpersonal communications while supporting service recipients. Unlike traditional birth attendants, trained midwives are able to provide more institutional support to use technological tools for childbirth, making midwifery practice in Bangladesh more reliable for service recipients.
The midwifery education program helps midwives enormously in making life-saving decisions when a situation is critical. Over the past decade, the attitude and acceptance of the community towards midwives has changed remarkably. Today, rural residents seek the services of registered midwives for childbirth and maternal care; they strive to obtain help and advice from registered midwives.
Mr. Md. Saiful Hassan Badal, the Honorable Secretary of the Medical Education and Family Welfare Division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare graced the occasion as the chief guest. HE Mr. Robert Chatterton Dickson, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Dr. Vibhavendra Raghuyamshi, Chief of Health, UNFPA, Bangladesh, Dr. Daniel Novac, First Secretary, Swedish Embassy in Bangladesh attended the seminar along with more than one hundred representatives from different ministries, partners agencies, implementing agencies, midwifery institutions and student midwives. Ms. Siddika Akter, Director General of the Directorate General of Nursing and Midwifery (DGNM) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), chaired the seminar.
Md. Saiful Hassan Badal, the Honorable Secretary of the Medical Education and Family Welfare Division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), said
“The national midwifery program has greatly contributed to the reduction of maternal and neonatal deaths, as well as caesarean section rates in Bangladesh. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has initiated the development of a cadre of world-class professional midwives. This was possible thanks to the strong commitment and support of our Honorable Prime Minister. The government has opened the door to higher education for midwives. I believe that midwives will play an important role in enabling us to achieve the SDGs by 2030.”
In his address, British High Commissioner HE Robert Chatterton Dickson said
“The UK has been a close development partner of Bangladesh since independence. Our joint effort to strengthen midwifery in Bangladesh adds to the five-decade Brit Bangla Bondhon for development.
“Today, nearly 3,000 midwives work in the public health system and have helped deliver more than 300,000 children over the past five years. Nearly 500 midwives work in Rohingya camps and others in the private sector, enabling safer childbirth for women and their babies across Bangladesh.
During her speech, the British High Commissioner highlighted the importance of empowering young women through midwifery education, which helps women realize their potential and contribute to a healthy society. He reiterated the UK government‘s priority for women and girls in its new international development strategy.
“I thank the Government of Bangladesh and hope that they take into account the recommendations that the UK-supported studies have offered to further strengthen midwifery practice in Bangladesh,” he added.
The Seminar Chairperson, Ms Siddika Akter, Director General, Directorate General of Nursing and Midwifery (DGNM), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), said
“Midwives play a vital role in saving the lives of mothers and newborns. Bangladesh’s national midwifery program has enabled thousands of mothers to give birth normally. Considering the need for their services across the country, more than 20,000 midwives are to be deployed to different health facilities including district hospitals and medical colleges in the near future. To continue these promising developments, the Government has created 5,000 new midwifery positions.
For a decade, UNFPA Bangladesh has been a committed UK implementing partner playing an important role in promoting midwifery practice in Bangladesh. Dr. Vibhavendra Raghuyamshi, UNFPA Chief of Health, said: “It has been a great pleasure for UNFPA to be involved in carrying out these studies, the findings of which are very valuable. Professional midwives not only play a critical role in preventing maternal and newborn deaths, but also provide family planning and gender-based violence response services to vulnerable women and girls. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, as well as our generous donors from the UK, Sweden and Canada, to ensure that life-saving midwifery services are as widespread as possible across the world. Bangladesh available.
The UK is one of Bangladesh’s largest bilateral donors and development partner. The UK is providing financial and technical assistance to the Government of Bangladesh’s Fourth Health Sector Programme, which aims to strengthen the Bangladeshi health system to address issues related to global health insecurity, including COVID– 19, ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to end preventable maternal and newborn deaths.
Globally, the UK is a champion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a significant contributor to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (Gavi), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and the Global Financing Facility. (GFF). The UK is also a major contributor to the COVAX facility which has helped millions around the world get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The study titled “Strengthening Midwifery Practice in Bangladesh – Lessons Learned” was conducted by ARK Foundation with the following objectives:
- study the role that trained midwives can play in improving maternal/neonatal health care services in the country;
- generate information on the effectiveness of midwifery services and its long-term impact on maternal health; and
- provide suggestions on the future direction of the midwifery program, among others, identifying possible scaling up options, opportunities and challenges, involving/linking the private/NGO sectors to train more midwives -women according to the needs of the country.
- The study “Pathways to Women Empowerment through Midwifery Education” was prepared by Disaster Management Watch (DM WATCH) as part of the “Better Health in Bangladesh (BHB)” program supported by the British government. The study shows the impacts of the midwifery education program on the empowerment of young women in Bangladesh.
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