White Ribbon Alliance Bangladesh Campaign
Over half a million women die worldwide each year as result of pregnancy-related complications. That's the equivalent of one death every minute of every day, which could have been prevented. What is more, 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries, and Bangladesh is no exception to this trend.
The White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) for Safe Motherhood is an international coalition, comprised of UN and other organisations, civic society, medical practitioners and individuals, whose goal is to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for all women. The WRA for Safe Motherhood works for women in both developed and developing nations, promoting awareness and ensuring that no woman dies needlessly. The White Ribbon, adopted as a symbol by the alliance, is dedicated to all those women who have died during pregnancy or childbirth. The WRA is currently in 72 countries all over the world and has National Secretariats in 12 countries, the Bangladesh Secretariat being the newest member.
The WRA works to ensure Safe Motherhood programmes which include three essential components; the presence of skilled providers at each birth (less than 10% of women deliver with a skilled attendant), a well-functioning referral system and quality obstetric services in case of complications. Over half a million women die worldwide each year as result of pregnancy-related complications. That's the equivalent of one death every minute of every day, which could have been prevented. What is more, 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries, and Bangladesh is no exception to this trend.
The latest estimates of Maternal Mortality and Morbidity for Bangladesh indicate that for each 100,000 live births 320 maternal deaths occur. This maternal morbidity ratio (MMR) coupled with the population size, places Bangladesh amongst the top ten countries contributing the largest numbers of maternal deaths in the world. Maternal death is not the only consequence of poor facilities and services for pregnant women. For each woman who dies 30 survivors will suffer long-term medical, psychological and social problems-a direct result of complications and unsafe practices. Moreover, maternal death has the effect of producing orphans. A child, who survives a birth where the mother has died, faces a survival rate of just 50% and is less likely to attend school. A mother-less child is also open to becoming a victim of discrimination, malnutrition and exploitation.
There are many ways in which this risk to mothers and their children can be reduced. One of the most effective routes is to address the family planning needs of women and their families. In this way, women can choose the timing and number of children they both want and are able to support. Family planning is extremely important as, for example, closely spaced births are linked to complications during both pregnancy and childbirth. The WRA is working to make the relevant information available to women and their communities in Bangladesh. A special concern is making information available to young women.
In Bangladesh, the WRA will assist the Ministry of Health to realise the Bangladesh Maternal Health Strategy, particularly, to integrate family planning and safe motherhood programs. As a part of the WRA's activities a special white ribbon badge is being designed, with the help of Aarong's design unit, to reflect the culture and heritage of Bangladesh. Another feature of the work in Bangladesh was the benefit dinner, 'The Grand Launching of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in Dhaka', held on Monday 28th November, to raise funds for the various initiatives.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005