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Dhaka, 30 March 2022 – Today, the Directorate General of Nursing and Midwifery (DGNM) of the Government of Bangladesh, the British High Commission in Bangladesh and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organized a seminar to reflect on the progress of midwifery in the country over the past decade.

Mr. Md. Saiful Hassan Badal, the Honorable Secretary of the Medical Education and Family Welfare Division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare graced the occasion as Chief Guest, while Mr. Matt Cannell, the Development Director of the British High Commission in Bangladesh, and Dr. Eiko Narita, Country Representative a.i. of UNFPA attended as special guests. The seminar was chaired by Ms Siddika Akter, the Director General of the DGNM and attended by over a hundred senior officials and representatives from different Government Ministries, development and implementing partners, and midwifery institutions.

By supporting 38 nursing and midwifery colleges and institutes in Bangladesh, the UK Government provided critical support to the Government of Bangladesh and UNFPA in strengthening midwifery education in the country over the past decade. With the UK’s support, UNFPA provided technical assistance to the DGNM in formulating national policies and strategies on midwifery, as well as in deploying midwives to Government health facilities in Bangladesh. In accordance with the National Midwifery Strategy, the UK also supported BRAC University and its partners in training midwives for the private sector.

The results disseminated at the event indicate that the UK Government’s support significantly improved women’s access to safe deliveries in Bangladesh. A total of 8,646 midwives graduated over the last decade, out of whom 2,557 were deployed to Government health facilities. As a result, midwives are now conducting 86% of the child deliveries in 407 Upazila Health Complexes across Bangladesh.

In addition, out of the 1,028 midwifery graduates from BRAC University, 376 are currently working at various private health facilities across Bangladesh. Around 400 midwives have also been deployed in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar.

“The national midwifery programme has greatly contributed to the reduction of maternal and newborn deaths, as well as caesarean section rates in Bangladesh. The three-year midwifery diploma course is currently being followed by 60 nursing colleges and 105 private midwifery institutes and I am happy were are close to realizing the Honourable Prime Minister’s commitment of deploying 3,000 midwives,” the Secretary of the Medical Education and Family Welfare Division, Md. Saiful Hassan Badal highlighted in his remarks at the event.

“Midwives are at the forefront of improving maternal and newborn health in Bangladesh. Considering the need for their services across the country, more than 20,000 midwives need to be deployed to different health facilities including district and medical college hospitals in the near future. The Government has devised a plan for creating 5,000 new midwifery posts and we hope to carry it out soon,” Ms Siddika Akter, the Director General of the DGNM, stated in her remarks.

In his remarks, Mr Matt Cannell, Development Director, the British High Commission in Bangladesh, said, “Midwives play a critical role in saving the lives of both mothers and newborns. Bangladesh’s National Midwifery Programme has successfully enabled thousands of mothers to give birth normally. I commend the Government of Bangladesh for institutionalising midwifery services on its journey towards achieving universal health coverage and Sustainable Development Goal 3. The UK is proud to be part of this programme with our partners.”

In her concludng remarks, Dr. Eiko Narita, the Country Representative a.i. of UNFPA in Bangladesh, said, “The UK Government’s generous support has enabled us to train thousands of midwives over the past decade and integrate their life-saving services into the national health system. I sincerely hope we can further strengthen this partnership over the next decade and continue to support the Government in its efforts to achieve zero preventable maternal deaths and zero unmet need for family planning in Bangladesh by 2030.”