The Department for International Development (DFID), the aid agency of UK government, is going to work with Bangladesh government to produce skilled midwives in order to reduce maternal mortality rate in the country, according to a press statement.
The DFID Bangladesh signed a grant agreement with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in this regard in Dhaka on Sunday.
According to the agreement, the DFID, through the UNFPA, will support the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to train midwives under a programme titled Strengthening the National Midwifery Programme (SNMP).
“The UK appreciates the heart warming progress made by the government of Bangladesh in reducing maternal deaths from over 12,000 in 2001 to fewer than 6,000 in 2014,” said Jane Edmondson, head of DFID Bangladesh, in the statement.
“But 6,000 deaths a year is still too many,” she added.
The objective of the SNMP is to improve the quality of midwifery education and create an enabling environment for the provision of a midwifery-led continuum of care for pregnant women and their babies in Bangladesh.
Through this programme, the UNFPA will work closely with the Directorate of Nursing under the ministry and contribute to achieving the agreed principles of quality, equity and efficiency of the upcoming fourth health sector programme of the ministry.
In terms of maternal health, global evidence shows that midwives deliver the most cost-effective interventions and are able to avert at least 30% of maternal deaths, said the statement.
Bangladesh government is committed to providing quality education and deploying skilled midwives particularly in upzila and union-level health facilities, because the establishment of the midwifery profession in the country is rooted in the commitment made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010 as part of the UN secretary general’s Every Woman, Every Child initiative.
Edmondson said skilled care providers, such as the midwives this programme will produce, were essential if quality maternal and newborn care services are to be available to all and the number of women dying is reduced even more.
“The UK is, therefore, committed in its support of the governments’ efforts to address this issue head on.”
Argentina Matavel Piccin, UNFPA Representative to Bangladesh, described the programme as a turning point in the fight for reduction of maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity in Bangladesh.
“By the end of this programme, Bangladesh will have midwives educated and trained to international standards and posted in the areas with greatest needs where they will provide the highest quality professional care,” she said.