• Saturday, Sep 18, 2021
  • Last Update : 08:02 pm

Neonatal healthcare services hard hit by Covid-19

  • Published at 07:16 pm March 19th, 2021
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According to the Unicef, a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide, the ongoing pandemic has put pregnant women and newborns at the most vulnerable situation in Bangladesh

Expecting mothers and newborn babies are hit hard by the ongoing Corona pandemic, which put the entire world to a standstill, due to unavailability of proper healthcare services.

According to the Unicef, a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide, the ongoing pandemic has put pregnant women and newborns at the most vulnerable situation in Bangladesh.

Shortage of skilled manpower, including doctors and midwives, and equipment are being faced at healthcare centres during the birth of children as various precautionary measures such as lockdowns and curfews have been enforced in different countries in order to stem the spread of coronavirus, Unicef said in a report.

Unicef said as many as 2.4 million newborn babies will see the light in Bangladesh and around 116 million children will be born around the globe till March 2021.

Tahura Khanam, wife of Shaheen Alam, who is an employee of a private organization in Mymensingh, is pregnant. But she is afraid to be admitted to hospital fearing Covid-19 infection.

She said: “Doctors advised me to get admitted to a hospital as I am facing some complications. But, I am afraid to go to the hospital due to Corona fear and the dilapidated condition of medical system.”

Kamruzzahan Panna, a gynecologist at Mymensingh Medical College Hospital, said: “We are trying our level best to provide healthcare to all types of patients, including pregnant women, in compliance with the health rules.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Bangladesh’s position is the ninth in the world in terms of birth of children in the first nine months since the declaration of the epidemic on March 11 last year.

Bangladesh Department of Health sources said maternal and neonatal access to healthcare has declined significantly to a great extent since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis.

Former president of Obstetric and Gynecological Society of Bangladesh Raushanara Begum said an additional 36% deliveries are now being held at home due to reduction of services at health centres.

“This tendency has increased the risk of maternal mortality and other complications. However, there is a sub-committee on maternal health and family planning in the National Technical Advisory Committee during coronavirus for safe motherhood,” she added.

The Department of Health said they were providing all possible assistance to the government to continue maternal, neonatal and child health care services during the epidemic through guidelines and providing training to doctors, nurses and midwives.

Unicef country representative Tomo Hozumi said despite the pressure on health systems due to the Covid-19 situation, routine life-saving services for pregnant mothers and newborns need to be maintained with proper protection.

He said they are working with the government of Bangladesh to assist in saving lives by ensuring that pregnant mothers and sick newborns receive the necessary assistance in the coming months.

Senior Fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies Nazneen Ahmed said that health workers should be given the opportunity to make home visits to ensure health services for pregnant women and maternity mothers.

“Women live in remote areas should be encouraged to stay at home and maternal waiting homes that have been set up for pregnancy and maternity period and to seek telephone advice, she said.

In the localities where healthcare centers are closed, training of health workers and safety equipment including sterile birth kits should be provided to ensure safe childbirth services, she opined.

State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Fazilatunnesa Indira said Bangladesh, like other countries in the world, is facing a tough challenge due to the global pandemic.

“However, women are getting benefit from the incentive package of over Tk1 lakh crore announced by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to tackle the coronavirus,” she said. New projects and programs for the development and protection of women and children will be taken up by her ministry to deal with Covid-19, she added.

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