In Bangladesh, rickshaws are a mode of emergency transportation that are improving access to life-saving healthcare services for pregnant women in rural communities.
“I am happy to carry pregnant mothers from remote areas to Union Health & Family Welfare Centres to conduct delivery, I feel proud to give services to local pregnant mothers. Local people acknowledged my work and services I provide.” -Mr. Dulal
In Bangladesh, the Infant Mortality Rate is 38/1000 live births (5/1000 in Canada) and the Maternal Mortality Rate is 176/100,00 (7/100,000). A high percentage of deaths of women and babies can be attributed to lack of awareness and access to health care services.
To change these grim stats, Plan International Canada is working with government and communities to increase access and knowledge of Maternal, Newborn and Child Heath (MNCH) and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), improve access to services and empower women and girls so that they can make their own decisions about their bodies and futures.
Improving access to health care services can take many shapes. In Bangladesh, in addition to other activities that address the social barriers to accessing services, we are using rickshaws to change the birth story.
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Rickshaw drivers as agents of change
Rickshaw drivers in these communities aren’t just providing a much-needed mode of transportation, they have become advocates for change and gender equality.
When asked what they have learned from our program and the impact of it on them and their families, here’s what 2 drivers had to say:
- Learned the importance of male participation in the improvement of access to essential maternal health services
- Disadvantages of child and early forced marriage
- Advantages of breastfeeding
- Father’s role and responsibilities during pregnancy and delivery period
My family members are now informed about safe motherhood and child health and the advantages of birth planning. The project has motivated our community to save mothers from maternal deaths during pregnancy and delivery and I hope this program will run for a long time.
“I am very happy to be involved in such a noble activity and humanitarian work.” – Mr. Karimul
I’ve learned about the importance of checkups during pregnancy and after the delivery. And the importance of safe delivery services as they can save the mother from complications and husbands have a vital role in this situation.
The project has changed my behaviour and now I am playing a supportive role in my family. It also helps people to be more aware because now women go to Union Health & Family Welfare Centres for deliveries, checkups and even after delivery.
One rickshaw driver and one community at a time, we’re working to change the birth story so that over 800 women and girls don’t die every day from complications related to pregnancy and child birth; so that women and girls can exercise their right to health and make their own decisions about their bodies; so that every girl, woman and child can live a life free of discrimination.
I stand with Canada to change the birth story because I believe that every adolescent girl, woman and child has the right to be healthy and to live a life free of discrimination.