DHAKA, Bangladesh — In the past 20 years, the number of deaths of children under five in Bangladesh has been reduced by 65 percent. However, neonatal deaths now account for more than half of these deaths. Fortunately, with all of the progress Bangladesh has been making, it is likely that these numbers will only continue to decline.
Bangladesh first reached the Millennium Development Goal set forth by the U.N. to decrease the amount of child mortality in 2010. Bangladesh continues to excel by staying on schedule in reducing the number of maternal deaths as well.
The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes Bangladesh’s success to all of the development the country has undergone with the assistance of various humanitarian organizations including UNICEF, Save the Children, UNFPA, JICA and USAID.
Bangladesh’s improvement has developed from every angle, even areas that would not seem directly related to the health sector have contributed to the reduction of Bangladesh’s child and maternal death rates.
Not surprisingly, one of the keys to Bangladesh’s success is education. The Female Secondary School Stipend Project is devoted to increasing secondary schooling for girls. In conjunction, programs designed to raise awareness of healthy eating habits and nutrition have made a significant impact on Bangladesh’s child and maternal death rates.
Fundamental improvements such as roadways and the introduction of technologies to Bangladesh have been just as vital to the country’s success. The Rural Electrification Programme brought electricity to rural areas without power, and this was just the first step.
Since then, Bangladesh has committed to implementing new technologies that will expand the network of healthcare and better serve their citizens. In April of 2016, Telenor Health launched its digital healthcare system, a gateway to information, advice and services, bringing mobile access to everyone.
As of 2014, breastfeeding is almost entirely universal, with 90 percent of women selecting to breastfeed for as long as two years. WHO asserts that this development has led to strengthened immunity in children and better nutrition overall. This is strongly tied to the recent low numbers of child deaths. Unfortunately, proper nutrition still remains a challenge for the children of Bangladesh.
Slightly less than half of the children in Bangladesh were reported to be anemic and in constant need of deworming medication. Closing the gap on nutrition continues to be at the foremost of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee’s (BRAC) agenda.
Within the healthcare system, there have been vast expansions of service in Bangladesh. Preventative care such as immunizations for both pregnant women and children have increased. The availability of treatments such as antibiotics, hydration therapy and supplements has also assisted in reducing Bangladesh’s child and maternal death rates.
Although the number of healthcare workers had not reached the recommended number, the increase of neonatal care has stemmed the high numbers of early childhood deaths. The government’s attention to comprehensive emergency obstetric care has also contributed to the better outcomes for both the mother and baby in complicated deliveries.
Advancing obstetric care and availability remains a priority as Bangladesh strives to improve their healthcare system and decrease the maternal and child death rate.
– Amy Whitman