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(Dhaka, 10 June 2021): As a nation-wide lockdown continues in Bangladesh for a third straight month, there are concerns that access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services is being compromised across the country. The ongoing situation poses a particular threat to the health of women and adolescent girls, which is why it is essential that reproductive health needs are addressed in the collective response to the pandemic.

Today, the Government of Sweden committed an additional grant of 6 million Swedish kronor to support UNFPA's COVID-19 response in Bangladesh. This new contribution takes the total Swedish contribution to UNFPA to 127 million Swedish kronor (approx. 15.5 million USD) during 2017-2022. The new grant will support UNFPA’s efforts to strengthen the quality and availability of sexual and reproductive health services in Bangladesh during COVID-19. The agreement was signed by Alexandra Berg von Linde, the Ambassador of Sweden to Bangladesh, and Dr. Asa Torkelsson, the Representative of UNFPA in Bangladesh, during a ceremony held at the Embassy of Sweden in Dhaka.

The new grant will be used to continue and expand the COVID-19 response efforts UNFPA has carried out earlier during the pandemic with Sweden’s support. For example, a hundred additional roving midwives will be deployed to health facilities around the country to ensure the availability of maternal and newborn health services in vulnerable communities.

The availability of remote reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health services will also be improved through the establishment of new telemedicine and emergency hotline services. Furthermore, the grant will be used to strengthen existing referral systems for pregnant mothers and to establish infection prevention and control, as well as triaging systems in separate maternity areas of health facilities.

“During the COVID19-pandemic it is all the more important to ensure safe pregnancies and childbirths, as well as reducing maternal mortality among the most vulnerable. We are happy to continue this partnership with UNFPA. Our support is part of the long-term commitment that Sweden has to strengthening sexual and reproductive health and rights in Bangladesh,”Ambassador of Sweden to Bangladesh, Alexandra Berg von Linde, stated in her remarks at the event.

“We express our deepest gratitude to the Government of Sweden for the generous support they have continued to show to UNFPA’s efforts to protect the lives of women, adolescent girls and newborns during COVID-19. Together, we will continue to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled despite the challenges posed by this pandemic,’’ UNFPA Representative, Dr. Asa Torkelsson, concluded in her remarks.,’’ UNFPA Representative, Dr. Asa Torkelsson, concluded in her remarks.