Midwifery in Bangladesh: A brief introduction

BD Needs Midwife

 

Bangladesh has made a commitment to end preventable child and maternal deaths by 2030 to achieve the goals of Sustainable Development. For reaching the goal the healthcare planners have prioritized antenatal and postnatal care, normal vaginal delivery, emergency obstetric care and new born care which directly links to quality maternal health services. Given the large number of maternity cases in Bangladesh, the country demands a huge supply of midwives to ensure healthy pregnancy for women and newborn. An estimated 22000 midwives will be required to meet the national need.

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh committed at the UN General Assembly Special Session in September 2010 to train 3000 midwives at the first go. To fulfill the commitment of the Honorable Prime Minister and with the purpose of developing a cadre of competent and compassionate midwives, in January 2012, a three-year Diploma in Midwifery Programme was introduced by the Government of Bangladesh.

Midwife Walking in Rohingya Camp

 

Midwifery is relatively a new concept in Bangladesh. The traditional birth attendants commonly known as “Dhatri” are often mixed up with Midwives, whereas Midwifery is an honorable and distinguished profession. It has received regional and international attention and recognition in the recent years. The anticipation is that this profession will benefit not only the ultimate target of the investment, the mothers and newborns of Bangladesh but has shown to create a three-fold return in investment for the country itself. To accelerate the production of midwives and introduce them in the remotest communities of Bangladesh, a three years direct entry Diploma in Midwifery Programme was introduced by the Government under the 2011-2016 Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Programme (HPNSDP) in January 2013. The programme started with intake of 525 students in 20 nursing institutes and was expanded, in phases to 925 students in 2016, across 38 institutes. A post-basic course was also started in 2010 under which 1,487 midwives have already been certified. Simultaneously with Government, midwifery education has also been expanded by the private sector. 

 

Midwife Rally

 

The most significant private sector initiative has been from BRACU which introduced a three years direct entry Diploma in Midwifery course in 2013 in partnership with 6 other NGOs targeted at vulnerable students from hard to reach areas and provided free of cost to the students, through DFID funding. The plan for professional development of midwives is also the result of years of collaboration and relationship building among stakeholders such as the government, non-government organizations, academia, professional associations, United Nations Agencies and donors.