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Dhaka, 5 May 2020 – Governments around the world are taking unprecedented measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Bangladesh, strengthening of health systems is of utmost priority, given that the situation is expected to severely impact health systems of low- and middle- income countries, with worse impacts on countries facing fragility and humanitarian crises. The pandemic also limits access to skilled, quality maternal health care, which can potentially increase risks to mothers and their newborns.

Currently, Sweden supports UNFPA in delivering sexual and reproductive health programming in four districts (Bandarban, Cox’s Bazar, Noakhali, Sunamganj) and Dhaka City Corporation. Through this programme, UNFPA works with the Government of Bangladesh to strengthen midwifery education and models midwifery led care to deliver comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.

Today, on the International Day of the Midwife, Sweden committed to further enhance its support to UNFPA through an additional grant of Swedish Krona 5 million primarily responding to the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency in Bangladesh. The occasion was marked with a virtual signing ceremony with the presence of Her Excellency Charlotta Schlyter, Ambassador of Sweden, and Dr Asa Torkelsson, UNFPA Representative.

With support from Sweden, UNFPA will ensure that the Government’s COVID-19 response activities relating to prevention, diagnosis, isolation and treatment will be strengthened. This includes particular emphasis on safe maternity care for all, by implementing triage systems, establishing separate COVID-19 maternity areas, providing personal protective equipment to midwives and other healthcare workers, and capacity building, across the four districts and Dhaka City Corporation.

By ensuring quality healthcare through targeted and focused response activities, women and girls will have access to essential services, including sexual and reproductive health services and information.