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(Dhaka, 13 August 2020): As the world continues to implement measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the government of Bangladesh has made considerable efforts to address the pandemic and maintain essential services while responding to the needs of COVID-19 patients. 

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), as the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, has remained focused on ensuring women and girls have access to basic sexual and reproductive health and rights services despite the pandemic. Supporting the Government of Bangladesh, UNFPA strives to ensure every pregnant mother, including those with COVID-19 symptoms,  continues to receive comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, which include respectful quality emergency  obstetric and newborn care, family planning, and prevention and response to gender-based violence.

Following the additional support received from the Government of Sweden in early May 2020 towards UNFPA’s COVID-19 response efforts in Bangladesh, today, Sweden committed an additional grant of Swedish Krona (SEK) 4.6 million for COVID-19 response. In addition, SEK 23 million was also granted to UNFPA to support the ongoing midwifery programme, which is essential for the continuation of midwifery education and modeling midwifery-led care in Bangladesh. The agreement was signed during a virtual ceremony by Christine Johansson, Chargé d'Affaires a.i. from the Embassy of Sweden in Bangladesh, and Dr. Asa Torkelsson, Representative of UNFPA in Bangladesh.

This additional support from Sweden allows UNFPA to expand the scope of crucial interventions in COVID-19 prevention including ensuring triage and separated delivery areas for Covid 19 symptomatic women at both urban and rural government facilities, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for midwives and other healthcare workers, ensuring the required training and mentoring, as continued for midwives and mentors to staff COVID-19 maternities, and providing roving midwives to cover gaps in services brought on by sick staff, and overwhelmed health facilities. Furthermore, the funding supports the continuation of ensuring sustainability of gender transformative, accessible, and quality sexual and reproductive health services that midwives are providing for women in targeted districts of Bangladesh, thereby reducing maternal mortality and morbidity among communities most left behind.