While it's decreasing in prevelance through education and social interventions, child marriage still occurs in Bangladesh. With girls getting married as young as 12 years old, many girls become mothers before they are even adults. These girls are at increased risk for complications during pregnancy.17 year old Shiuly Begum from Goudium village in Mymensingh got married at a very young age. She became pregnant soon after her marriage and didn't know what to do. A health worker from BRAC visited Shiuly and taught her about care during pregnancy as well as complications and warning signs. BRAC's neonatal health worker visited Shiuly seven times to provide antenatal check-ups during her pregnancy. She also taught Shiuly essential newborn care. When her labor began, the health worker noticed some complications, and Shiuly was taken to a BRAC health center, where she gave birth through a caesarian section. BRAC helped bear the cost of the surgery by paying TK 3,000 (about $36). “The health worker from BRAC still visits me for checkup and gives me advice about taking care of the baby," says Shiuly. "I am very grateful to BRAC for all their support.”
In lieu of a report, I thought I would share with you the story of a woman and a baby that you helped to save by supporting BRAC's Healthcare for Motherns and Children project in Bangladesh. This story and a photo essay was also posted on the Million Moms Challenge blog.
In late 2011, Philadelphia-based freelance photographer Sarah Bones, part of the collective Photographers for Hope, went to Bangladesh to photograph the urban delivery centers or “birthing huts” opened by BRAC, a global development organization active in 10 countries, in the crowded slums of the country's capital, Dhaka. She witnessed, and captured on film, a dramatic scene as one 17-year-old Fazila, endured a difficult labor – first in the birthing hut, later on the floor of a stranger's hut. These birthing huts normally provide access to a safe and hygienic place for women to give birth as an alternatives to home delivery, helped by other local women with a small amount of proper training. When complications occur, the local health workers are able, in most cases, to get qualified help. Among other interventions to help the poor lift themselves out of poverty in areas like education, healthcare and microfinance, BRAC trains an army of over 80,000 women in the villages and slums of Bangladesh to act as “community health workers” to offer affordable care to their neighbors. BRAC's maternal health program has been massively successful in reducing the number of home births: in urban areas where it operates the birthing huts, the portion of home births drop from 86 percent to 25 percent between 2007 and 2009. Due in part to innovations such as these, Bangladesh has seen maternal and infant mortality drop by one quarter since 1972.
Click here to see the photo essay by Sarah Bones.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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