I visited Bangladesh last December (2011) for 10 days to visit our projects. The hospital training center and dormitory is almost complete, with the scheduled grand opening for April this year. Accompanying me on this trip were Dr. Vidya Sharma, professor of pediatrics from the University of Missouri who is also head of International Health and leader of many projects in India and Africa. This is her first visit to Bangladesh with the hope of establishing grassroots healthcare projects in collaboration with Hope Foundation. Our mission to educate the local people of Bangladesh in easily preventable healthcare problems such as low Vitamin D and rickets continues with the support of people like Dr. Sharma.
Also with me on the trip were a team from California from a group called Mobile Medic, who are trying to set up a system of healthcare for people in isolated rural areas by the use of cell phones to communicate with the hospital. This is an exciting new development that will help our new Village Nurse graduates to administer healthcare direct to patients with the backup of the hospital that is usually too far away for the patient to visit. This will help rural women to get regular checkups during pregnancy to prevent mothers and babies dying from birthing complications since the costs of travelling to the hospital is too much for them. This is also a very low cost way of delivering healthcare since the Village Nurses are local women and their costs are far less than paying a doctor to do home visits.
I met with our Village Nurse graduates who are now employed in various clinics. The graduates from the island of Moheshkhali are now helping our Mothers' Club members in their neighboring villages. Empowering and educating women is an enormous benefit towards the education and improvement of the health of the entire community.
During my trip a 10 bed Rehab unit was set up to provide services to the paralyzed, injured and recovering patients who come to the hospital for occupational and physical therapy. The disabled and paralyzed people in Bangladesh are usually neglected since the country is poor and cannot provide for everyone. Our partnership with KDM, a French rehab. specialist organization has been giving much need therapy to local people since 2010.
Our goal to provide a permanent cafeteria/canteen in the hospital continues and plans are being put in place to do this as soon as the training center is complete. The training center will be a hub for training, meetings, conferences and many events that will require on-site food services that can help the canteen be self-sufficient and also provide free food to the poor patients in the hospital.
My trip ended with several meetings in the capital, Dhaka, with major aid organizations and NGO's. These partnerships will help to continue our mission and vision to help the poor and suffering people in Bangladesh.
I visited Bangladesh last April to meet with the American Ambassador to Bangladesh, hon. James Moriarty who visited our Hope Foundation hospital in Cox's Bazar. The trip was a great success. i also had the time to sit down with our Country Director Mr. Jalal Uddin Shoaib who is in charge of all the Hope projects in Bangladesh.
At the moment, a new dormitory/training center is being constructed, funded by the Japan Embassy in Bangladesh. This training center will be used for our future village nurses and birth attendants so that they can receive good training as well as have a dormitory to stay in for the duration of their course. This is very important since many of the women being trained are specifically selected from very rural areas where there are no doctors or trained nurses available for the local population. These areas are too far for the students to travel from every day.
Our first batch of students from this pilot program are due to graduate in August. They are currently being trained to use their cell phones to communicate health data from the patients in the villages to the hospital doctors. This will help the hospital staff to identify which patients need hospital care and those that do not. This will greatly help the village people since trips to the hospital are a burden to them, especially if they can be treated at their homes by the village nurses.
This will also be the start of a medical records system for the hospital. Most hospitals in Bangladesh, and all private physicians do not keep medical records of their patients, instead relying on patients to carry their files with them or relate from memory their health history.
The training course for the Birth Attendants began on Jan 10 2011, titled 'Village Nurse Training Course'. The course has already started with the funds that are available. A total of 10 local women have been selected and the course will last for 8 months. It was decided to begin the course even though the total funding was not received as a result only 10 women can be trained at this time.
All women are from the area, are at least high school educated and live near to the hospital or one of the outlying satellite medical centers. In this way, they will all have an opportunity to serve at Hope's hospital or clinics and if they wish to work independently, will also be able to refer patients to doctors in case of serious problems.
Training is being undertaken by the doctors and nurses at Cox' Bazar Hospital for Women and Children. In January/February a volunteer Polish doctor and her husband who is a physical therapist: Dr. Ania and Olech Burnet gave 3 weeks of their time to the hospital. During this time they helped to launch the training course and held lectures for the trainees.
More good news from our hospital - a full time Ob/Gyn doctor is now on staff. This is a tremendous achievement since most specialist doctors do not like to serve in non-profit hospitals, especially those in rural areas of Bangladesh. As a result, the local women who are having difficult deliveries at home are able to have safe c-sections at the hospital. Since January about 45 babies have been safely delivered by c-section.
Our future village nurses will be able to attend to home births and recognize and immediately refer difficult and dangerous deliveries to hospitals and help save the life of mother and baby.
There are now 25 women who are signed up for the birth attendant course. This short course will help to train local women to safely and hygienically deliver babies at home. Since about 95% of deliveries in the surrounding rural areas are home deliveries, it is more effective to reduce infant and maternal deaths by training local women than to persuade all mothers to deliver at the hospital.
Most local birth attendants have no formal training, do not wash hands before delivery and do not know how to recognise signs of danger during delivery. Our short course will help to provide local women with a basic but up to date knowledge, that will help them to also earn an income by becoming village birth attendants. The women will be asked to come to the hospital occasionally for follow up classes and will be provided with essential equipment to ensure safe deliveries. They will be trained in identifying difficult labor that require hospitalization and will contact the hospital to transfer mothers and children who are in danger.
This project will begin as soon as the funds are fully collected.
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