IT IS disquieting that although Bangladesh has made significant progress in reducing maternal mortality rate since 1990 about 15 mothers die every day in the country because of maternal complications, according to UNICEF experts. The government and nongovernment officials at a National Award Giving ceremony in the capital, as New Age reported on Monday, observed that the country needed to reach the modern maternity health services to the poor and deprived people of remote areas. That postnatal haemorrhage and eclampsia — two life-threatening complications during pregnancy — might stand in the way of achieving the sustainable development goals is a matter to be taken into serious consideration. The overall maternal mortality rate, however, declined from 322 to 194 per hundred thousand between 2001 and 2010, but maternal death from postpartum haemorrhage has increased to 31 per cent from 29 per cent over the past decade, according to the Maternal Mortality Survey report, 2010. Some 3,825 women die every year due to postpartum haemorrhage and eclampsia, which accounts for more than half of the total maternal deaths in the country, says the survey report. Pregnant mothers should be provided with adequate care from upazila health complexes and union health and family welfare centres to control maternal mortality rate.
No doubt, socio-economic condition leading to malnutrition, lack of proper healthcare and adherence to antiquated customs and beliefs are some of the reasons for high maternal mortality rate and neonatal deaths in our country. A large segment of expecting mothers in Bangladesh still does not get the required care during pregnancy in terms of getting sufficient nutritious food, rest and medical care. Majority of the expecting mothers, especially those in their teens, suffer from acute malnutrition and various other ailments, as some 45 per cent of mothers in the country are malnourished. Consequent upon it, they give birth to underweight babies. We have a reasonably developed health infrastructure in Bangladesh today, despite staffing problems and lack of support-services in some of the health centres. The government healthcare facilities in rural areas consist of sub-district health centres, union-level health and family welfare centres and rural dispensaries. Still, most of these health centres and hospitals are inaccessible to a large section of expecting mothers.
However, concerted effort from the health authorities, the private sector and the non-government organisations is needed, at the moment, for prevention of postpartum haemorrhage and eclampsia among expectant mothers, which is assailing us as an intractable hindrance to our achievement of the SDGs. Traditional female health workers should be imparted periodic training and their incorporation as an integral part of the healthcare system should be facilitated by the authorities. Health education of couples, to make them aware of the importance of antenatal checkups, hospital deliveries and small-family norms, should also be made mandatory.
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