Bangladesh has less than one (0.5) nurse or midwife for every 1,000 people. In rural communities, the number is even lower. More than 3,500 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth every year, in large part due to a shortage of health care workers in rural areas.
Just over half of all births in Bangladesh are attended by a skilled care provider. We support the scaling-up of midwifery training, access to quality maternity care services for refugees and underserved communities, and health care outreach and education, particularly in rural areas.
In Bangladesh, rural health care providers are typically male–a barrier that prevents many women from seeking care at health facilities. Trained midwives from rural communities can provide high-quality, facility-based care and ensure that women have more options to give birth safely, but the midwifery profession was only officially recognized by the government in 2010. To help advance midwifery in this landscape, we support our partners in training midwives from rural areas through one of the country’s first three-year, professional community-based midwifery diploma programs.
Nearly one million Rohingya refugees have fled persecution in Myanmar to seek shelter in camps in Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar is now home to the largest refugee camp in the world, where approximately 60 women give birth each day. We are supporting the ongoing expansion of prenatal, childbirth and postnatal services through field hospitals, mobile clinics, ambulatory transportation and more so that Rohingya women and children can receive the care they deserve.
Our partners train and support midwives to staff and run new birth centers in rural areas. To build trust with the community, birth center midwives conduct monthly Mother’s Clubs, where they meet in women-only spaces to discuss maternal health warning signs, the harmfulness of child marriage, and the benefits of skilled maternity care. Over time, this integration into local communities helps midwives provide culturally-sensitive care and builds community engagement.
HOPE Foundation provides life-saving care and services to women and children in Bangladesh, especially those most in need, including the Rohingya refugees who have fled persecution in Myanmar. As part of an expansive maternal health care reach, HOPE trains midwives, conducts community outreach and education, opens and runs rural birth centers, and provides essential primary, maternal, and newborn care in underserved areas in rural Bangladesh.
We also use storytelling, filmmaking, and data and research to share challenges, opportunities and advocacy goals. In Bangladesh, we focus on the potential and impact of the country’s burgeoning midwifery profession. Watch the latest from our Delivering Hope series below.