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Midwives Improve Lives for Mothers and Children

Midwives at a training demonstration in Bangladesh. Photo: Zaida Bastos

January 24, 2012

By Simon Chambers

PWRDF and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) worked together to support maternal and child health and preventive health programs in Bangladesh as part of PWRDF’s CIDA-funded health sector program.

In 2008, when the program began, a survey showed that three quarters of the women and children in the villages covered by the program were up to date in their vaccines. The survey also showed that midwives were a great resource already in the villages and could, with training and support, greatly contribute to enhancing the quality of health care received by pregnant women, newborns, and children.

Over the three years of the program, 259 midwives were supported in their work and were able to reach out to 11,000 women, children, and newborns. The midwives accompanied pregnant women, ensuring that they visited health clinics at least twice during the pregnancy and that they and their newborns visited a medical unit within 48 hours of birth.

By the end of the program, 100% of pregnant women and 100% of the children assisted by the midwives were fully immunized or were on their way to completing their vaccination schedules.

The midwives also used their skills and knowledge in their roles as community leaders and resources. They worked to help the poor in their communities access nutritious foods that can be easily gathered and prepared to provide pregnant women and lactating mothers with nutritious meals. The program supported this nutrition program by providing cows to poor women, augmenting their access to milk for themselves and their families. Many of the cows have produced calves, which have been given to other families, allowing an additional 50 families to have a cow.

PWRDF has entered into a new agreement with CIDA to work with long-term PWRDF partner UBINIG in continuing to train and support midwives in Bangladesh, with the goal of improving the lives of over 150,000 mothers and children in 130 villages in Bangladesh.

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