Each year, the Symbiosis Maternal Child Health Project delivers support to 4,000+ new mothers and fathers in the Symbiosis project area.
Maternal Health in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh today, over 80% of women give birth without the assistance of trained health personnel. In the rural areas, this figure is 92%. Deliveries usually occur at home with either no assistance or simply the assistance of the traditional birth attendants.
The work of the Symbiosis Maternal and Child Health project, is essential in a country where the average woman is married at 16 years of age, and has her first child by 18 years. By providing informed support to pregnant women, Symbiosis is improving outcomes, preventing disability and saving the lives of Bangladesh’s next generation.
The Bangladesh Government committed to reduce maternal and child mortality in 2000, as part of its commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. One of the government goals is that all pregnant mothers will have the support of Skilled Birth Attendants.
Symbiosis is invested in the realisation of this important goal.
Symbiosis Maternal and Child Health Project
Symbiosis commenced the Maternal and Child Health Project in 2007 with one midwife simply going out into the rural Symbiosis project areas to engage with Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs).
TBAs are courageous women, who for little or no payment, take on the role of supervising births in their area. They learn their skills from generation to generation, but not all of their well-meaning practices are beneficial in ensuring a safe delivery for both mother and child.
The Symbiosis midwife began to provide mobile education classes to these TBAs out in the villages to ensure an increase in their knowledge in pre and postnatal care.
Three additional female staff were brought onto the project a few years later. Provided with informal training around antenatal checks and education on hygiene, nutrition and breastfeeding, they were placed in remote areas without existing health services, tasked with finding pregnant mums and educating them in antenatal care and things they could do to pre-plan for safe delivery of their baby.
Symbiosis Birthing Unit
The team of four mobile staff maintained their commitment and courage despite cultural questions even amongst the local Symbiosis staff, regarding the necessity of a project like this for something as normal as childbirth.
Evidence of the increased well-being of mums and bubs thanks to the increased knowledge acquired by the TBA’s quickly became apparent.
The informally trained staff have since taken a six month full time theoretical and practical training course to qualify as Skilled Birth Attendants. This enables them to perform uncomplicated deliveries, as well as expanded their formal knowledge to continue to deliver antenatal education classes in the rural areas.
In 2016 Symbiosis opened a birthing unit in the Symbiosis Birtara project area, where over 100 babies have been safely delivered so far.
The team is now based out of this clinic and continue to conduct antenatal care and education activities in the villages.