Self-Care Project in Bangladesh: Brief Outcomes of Design Workshop

Oct 12, 2016 | Bangladesh, News

By Dr. Farhana Ahmad, National Coordinator for White Ribbon Alliance Bangladesh


White Ribbon Alliance Bangladesh has been awarded a maternal, newborn and child health self-care project grant through a competitive bidding process in partnership with White Ribbon Alliance and Bayer.

To support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Strategy, WRA and Bayer made a joint 3-year commitment to identifying self-care priorities in the context of community health for marginalized populations. With self-care, the individual is the driver of their own health. By ensuring that women have the information and resources needed to proactively and effectively care for themselves and their families, positive ripple effects for the individual, family, community, provider and health system will be felt for generations.

This initiative focuses on policy-level and grassroots solutions to exemplify and highlight the strengths of self-care practices so that women and children get the quality health care they want, need and deserve. It will be implemented in the remote, under-served communities of Patuakhali district in the southern coastal region of the country.

With technical support from White Ribbon Alliance Global Secretariat, a three-day planning workshop was convened in Dhaka from September 26-28, 2016. The planning workshop developed a common understanding on the concept of self-care, prioritized and defined the problem, developed solutions, determined milestones, agreed on the advocacy goals and the responsibilities of stakeholders, including members of WRA, to implement the self-care project.

About 25 representatives from UNFPA, UNICEF, ICDDR’B, OGSB, White Ribbon Alliance Bangladesh, INGOs, national NGOs and NGOs located in Patuakhali participated in the workshop. Their diverse experiences included specialties in field implementation, research, academics, policy and the technical aspects of maternal health. Together with facilitators from White Ribbon Alliance Global Secretariat and the National Coordinator for WRA Bangladesh, the group used innovative and participatory methods that included presentations, group work, brainstorming, self-reflections, and plenary sessions.

The key outcomes of the workshop are summarized below:

The end results need to be achieved: The health workers, community clinic-based Community Groups (CG), and Community Support Group (CSG) members, including local NGO health workers, are effectively counseling and supporting pregnant women and their families to plan for a happy and healthy birth.

Problem statement: Due to inadequate and ineffective counseling and supports from health workers and community volunteers, more than 95% of women in rural Bangladesh fail to appropriately prepare for safe delivery, contributing to high death and disabilities to mothers and babies.

Solution statement: The frontline health workers and community volunteers of remote coastal rural Bangladesh, and their supervisors and managers, need to be trained, equipped and supported for effective counseling about birth preparedness to pregnant women and families.

Policy solution statement defined: National policy efforts will be achieved in conjunction with the lessons learned from the self-care community project. Working closely with the Ministry of Health, UN agencies, NGOs, media, research and academic institutions, and local women, WRA Bangladesh will advocate for national incorporated birth preparedness curriculum and effective training for the existing community groups, support groups and community healthcare workers.

White Ribbon Alliance Theory of Change and WRA Bangladesh’s Self-Care Project: An important step in the Theory of Change is the ability to “Build and use our political capital to influence decision makers.” WRA Bangladesh exemplified this during WRA Bangladesh’s planning workshop, where the National Line Director, who is responsible for all health care facilities in the area, spoke to participants about the state of women in Bangladesh and later made a commitment to visit the project and further discuss ongoing support. With the endorsement of such an important national leader, WRA Bangladesh has started the Self-Care Project on a strong foundation that is sure to support them as they begin this important work.