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Things looking up at Jamalpur District Hospital

© UNICEF/2011/Habibul Haque
Kaniz Fatema, 27, and her newborn baby lie in a comfortable bed at the Jamalpur District Hospital in Jamalpur, north-west Bangladesh.

By Konka Karim

Jamalpur, Bangladesh, 06 September 2011: During her first year at the Jamalpur District Hospital, Doctor Fakhria Alam recalls a young woman in labour coming to the hospital with the hand of her newborn protruding from in between her.

‘She had tried to have the baby with the help of a village dai (midwife) but the child had gotten stuck in the middle of the process,’ says the doctor. ‘It was a horrifying sight. We were unable to save the child in the end.’

Dr Fakhriahas worked as a gynaecologist at the hospital since 2007. “Such a sight was not uncommon few years back. When I joined, there were hardly any staff to assist me and most of the beds in the gynaecology and paediatric wards were empty,’ she says.

Now in 2011, things are different at the Jamalpur District Hospital. The walls are adorned with information boards that provide female patients and visitors with information on how and where to seek healthcare, on their rights as patients, as well as various healthcare tips. The paediatric and gynaecology wards are full and orderly and patients are lining up along the ticket counter, as well as the information desk.
This is thanks -in part - to the Maternal and Neonatal Health Initiative (MNH) jointly run by UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA, which has provided the hospital with staff; supplies such as beds, fans, televisions, chairs and lockers; renovation material and logistical help.

© UNICEF/2011/Habibul Haque
A new-born child receives specialised therapy at the Jamalpur District Hospital.
The MNH initiative seeks to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality by encouraging more and more to the use health facilities.

According to the State of the World’s Children 2011 report, only 24 per cent of women use skilled birth attendants during delivery and a mere 15 per cent access health facilities.  

Since the initiative began in 2009, the hospital has undergone drastic changes both in terms of facilities and capacity, attracting more and more pregnant woman and new mothers.
‘This is the second time I am having a baby here,’ says mother of our Kaniz Fatema, as she lies lazily on her bed in the paediatric ward with her newborn daughter in her arms.‘The last time I had my baby here, almost 5 years back, I spent four days lying on the hallway of the gynaecology ward with many other woman, hardly being attended to by any one,’ says the 27-year-old.
‘This time I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and brought to the hospital. I was carried on a patient’s trolley and taken to the delivery room. I also got a proper bed to lie on with attendants checking on me regularly,’ she adds.
‘The good thing about the MNH initiative is that it approaches the hospitals’ needs in a full-pronged manner, providing logistics and other support on a timely basis, if and when things are required,’ says Dr Mohammed Abdul Hakim, Civil Surgeon of Jamalpur district.

‘It is noticeable how people’s attitude are changing and more and more pregnant women are coming to our hospital instead of going to “dai’s” or private hospitals,’ says Dr Hakim.

Jamalpur District Hospital is lined up for more support through the MNH initiative, with, further employment of four doctors and four nurses, support staff and security guards, as well as 25 additional beds in the labour ward.
While it is too early for the MNH indicators to show drastic improvements, the doctors at the district hospital are upbeat about the future.



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