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UNICEF doctor steps in to perform emergency caesarean at a rural hospital

© UNICEF Bangladesh/2007/Heinrich
UNICEF Maternal Health Project Officer Dr. Monira Parveen performed an emergency caesarean operation at a rural hospital in Bangladesh.

By Cate Heinrich

CHAUGHACHHA, Bangladesh, 3 July 2007 – In rural areas of Bangladesh, surgery is never straightforward. When 20-year-old Lipy arrived at the Chaugachha Upazila health complex, the doctors told her that she would require a caesarean section in order to save her baby. Unfortunately, there were no doctors on hand who were qualified to perform this type of surgery.

“The doctor thinks the baby might not survive a natural birth but I don’t know when I am going to have the operation,” said Lipy while waiting to see if anyone would take her for surgery.

Thankfully, UNICEF Maternal Health Project Officer Dr. Monira Parveen happened to be attending a training session at the hospital that day. Along with another doctor from the session, Dr. Parveen and her colleague, Dr. Chowdhury, were able to step in and successfully deliver Lipy’s baby.  

“If her surgery was delayed for another half an hour, it was likely the baby would have died,” said Dr. Parveen.

© UNICEF Bangladesh/2007/Heinrich
Rural hospitals often have limited electricity, increasing the risk involved in any surgical operation.

Supporting hospitals, saving lives

Recently, the Chaugachha Upazila health complex has become one of seven facilities in Bangladesh accredited by UNICEF and the Directorate General of Health Services as women-friendly hospitals. UNICEF has also helped to upgrade 192 emergency obstetric care facilities at the district and upazila (sub-district) levels throughout the country.

Bangladesh has a high maternal mortality rate, with 320 deaths per 100,000 births reported every year. Surgical complications can easily develop in rural hospitals as the facilities often lack necessities such as electricity, adequate lighting and refrigerators to store blood.

 “There are limited resources in a small hospital,” explained Dr. Parveen. “If a complication develops, blood must be collected from the people in nearby villages, and that takes time.”

In a country where almost 9 out of 10 births occur at home with no skilled attendant present, UNICEF is helping to develop community support systems and piloting programmes on the prevention of parent-to-child HIV transmission.

But for many mothers like Lipy in rural hospitals throughout Bangladesh, having an uncomplicated birth is still not fully assured. Until that time, UNICEF is working to strengthen emergency obstetric care services by accrediting hospitals like Chaugachha and doctors like Monira Parveen are doing what they can to help.

“It was a good feeling to be able to save the mother and her baby,” said Dr. Parveen.



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