Around 14 mothers die every day in Bangladesh due to complications during pregnancy, and the country needs to cut the maternal mortality rate to ensure safe maternity.
Haemorrhage, eclampsia and obstructed or delayed deliveries are three chief reasons behind the deaths of would-be mothers in the country. Besides, the country also lags in ensuring institutional deliveries of pregnant mothers.
Speakers yesterday said these at a programme organised at a city hotel to unveil the Bangladesh National Strategy for Maternal Health 2019-2030 which has been developed targeting prevention of maternal mortalities and ensuring of improved maternal health.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has formulated the strategy in association with Unicef, UNAFP, WHO, USAID and Save the Children.
Besides, the ministry has developed Standard Operating Procedures with assistance from the USAID and the Save the Children for conducting maternal health services in the country.
At the programme, 62 healthcare institutes, from medical colleges to health and family welfare centres at the union level, have been awarded for their special contribution to maternal health in the country.
Dr Mushair-ul-Islam, the deputy director (maternal and neonatal health) of the Department of Health, presented the keynote paper.
He said Bangladesh has registered a substantial improvement in reducing maternal deaths. In 2001, the maternal mortality rate in one lakh live births was 322 in the country, but it came down to 194 in 2010.
The rate further dropped to 176 in 2015 and 172 in 2017. However, the rate is still high, he commented.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque was present at the event as the chief guest.
He said, "We are performing well in the health sector. But we have some challenges. We have to minimise maternal mortalities to 70 from current 172 and child deaths to 12. We also need to bring child marriage under control too."
"Meeting these challenges will significantly help us attain Sustainable Development Goals. So, other ministries will have to step up along with the health ministry," the minister said.
An increase in the rate of institutional deliveries will enable the country to reduce maternal and child mortalities, Zahid Maleque said, adding, "We also need to cut the caesarean delivery rate and ensure nutrition for mothers to prevent child deaths."
The Bangladesh National Strategy for Maternal Health 2019-2030 aims to raise, within 2030, the rate of institutional deliveries to 85 percent from 47.1 percent and deliveries by skilled midwives to 90 percent from 50 percent.
Besides, it has set a target of reducing the maternal mortality rate to 70 from 172 and neonatal mortality (in every 1,000 live births) to 12 from 17. It has also pledged to ensure at least four-time pre-delivery healthcare services for pregnant mothers to 100 percent from 37.2 percent.
Presided over by Dr Abul Kalam Azad, the director general of the Department of Health, the programme was also attended among others by Md Asadul Islam, the health secretary, Dr Syed Modasser Ali, a former adviser to the prime minister, Dr Md Ehteshamul Haque Chowdhury, the general secretary of the Bangladesh Medical Association, Kazi AKM Mohiul Islam, the director general of the Department of Family Planning and Dr Bardan Jung Rana, a WHO representative.