MSH leads project in Bangladesh to improve access to health services for young women and first-time parents
MSH will lead a new project to improve the quality and use of maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) and family planning (FP) services for young Bangladeshi women and their partners in the underserved urban municipality of Tongi in Gazipur, near Dhaka. Due to deep gender inequities, high rates of adolescent fertility, and lack of knowledge of reproductive health, an innovative approach is needed to provide person-centered, responsive and culturally-appropriate services.
The three-year project, “Healthy Women, Healthy Families”, launched in January 2021, was made possible by a grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies. MSH will work in collaboration with district health officials; the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; and the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, which share responsibility for urban health in Bangladesh. Working with local partners, MSH will co-design, implement, and evaluate the program for young women and their partners, particularly focusing on first-time parents.
Using an innovative, human-centered design approach that considers the evolving context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this project will improve the quality of clinical care for antenatal care, newborn and infant health and nutrition, and healthy birth spacing planning. Offering young mothers-to-be social support services, especially from their peers, the program will foster positive engagement from key people in their lives, such as male partners, parents, and in-laws. Sustained community engagement with local leaders and community members will build local ownership of the program, while evidence and learnings generated from the program will help inform national youth policy and programming.
Nearly 35 years ago, MSH started working in Bangladesh. Recent projects have focused on improving procurement management systems for reproductive health commodities; reducing tuberculosis morbidity, mortality, and transmission through local governments, civil society, the private sector, and community leaders; and improving access to quality medicines and services through retail drug outlets.
“We are thrilled to expand our work in Bangladesh with a specific focus on mothers and children living in urban poverty and without access to family planning education and tools, or proper health services,” said Marian W. Wentworth, MSH’s President and CEO. “Bangladesh has the highest adolescent fertility rate in Asia, so targeting young women and their partners can help improve maternal and newborn outcomes.”