The project seeks to increase the quality and quantity of health services for mothers and newborns by supporting the Joint Government of Bangladesh-UN Maternal and Neonatal Health Initiative. The project targets current challenges such as inconsistent quality of services and the fact that mothers, for a variety of reasons, hesitate to use such services even when they do exist. The project takes place at the local level in districts and communities and focuses on poor and marginalized populations. It includes activities such as: (1) providing training and information for mothers about harmful health practices and the need to use and demand better services; (2) providing technical assistance and support to improve local level planning by the government; (3) supporting coordination between non-governmental organizations and the government to develop better services; and (4) providing training to improve the skills of doctors, nurses and other community-based health personnel. Canada’s contribution expands the original initiative to include seven new districts. This project is part of Canada’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health commitment.
Results achieved as of April 2014 include: (1) maternal deaths dropped from 306 in 2011 to 153 in 2013 in four districts (as per a preliminary analysis of the Maternal and Perinatal Death Review, which is examining deaths in the two months before expected birth and up to one month after delivery); (2) the Maternal and Perinatal Death Review was scaled up to cover three new districts, which means that seven districts can use this review to collect and analyze information on the cause, place and time of maternal deaths, still births and newborn deaths in order to inform future policies and programming; (3) the number of women delivering in institutional facilities rose from 24% in 2012 to 29% in 2013 in four districts; (4) 3,809 community health volunteers received five days of training and another 10,523 received refresher training on prenatal, post-natal and essential newborn care and counselling; (5) 20 health service user forums to discuss health service delivery were put in place with 15 to 20 health service users each (at least 40% of whom are women); (6) waiting times to receive maternal and newborn health services were reduced, and 47.5% of clients now receive care within 15 minutes of arriving at a health facility; and (7) the numbers of prenatal visits increased from 204,547 visits of pregnant women in 2012 to 239,497 visits in 2013. This is contributing to improving women and children’s access to quality health care services, including prenatal care. Source: UNFPA Project Annual Report for calendar year 2013.