News — July 18, 2013

JCI Bangladesh Focuses on Women???s Health and Wellness

Members of JCI Dhaka Cosmopolitan of JCI Bangladesh received an honorable mention for 2013 JCI President Chiara Milani’s challenge to submit the best project during JCI Impact Month. The project, “Better Health Better Life” advances two of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The citizens of Dhaka, Bangladesh have always recognized the challenges surrounding health and wellness in their society as a major issue that needs to be addressed by all community stakeholders. JCI Dhaka Cosmopolitan decided to tackle these concerns and focus on improving maternal health and the health of newborn babies, MDGs #4 and #5.

A survey from their local corporate partner, Spellbound, highlighted the issue of a very high maternal mortality rate for the country of Bangladesh – the fourth highest among all Asian countries. In their home country, 240 out of every 100,000 expecting mothers die during their pregnancy. This problem is especially common among those living in impoverished communities. JCI members also conducted personal interviews with community members to expand their findings and raise awareness about this growing issue. 

Providing Sustainable Solutions
The first step JCI members took to improve maternal and newborn health was recruiting local doctors to work in a medical camp and consult with expectant mothers, while listening to their medical needs and concerns. These doctors measure the weight of the mother and take their blood pressure, pulse and heartbeat, body temperature, and determine their blood type. During the first trimester, expectant mothers receive folic acid at no charge and they additionally receive iron and calcium tablets during the second trimester. Tetanus vaccinations are given during the third trimester. They also provide other medicines, dietary supplements and information booklets about how to care for yourself while pregnant.

JCI Dhaka Cosmopolitan also provides facilities for ultrasounds and urine tests. Doctors educate patients on the differences in the three trimesters of the pregnancy. Once the babies are born these volunteer doctors encourage the mothers to continue with breast-feeding for a minimum period of six months. This will ensure better health and growth prospects for the newborns. Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Polio drops are also given to babies for free.

The project began in 2013 and since its implementation has provided health care service to more than 100 expectant mothers per month. By serving 3000 women, at least seven lives can be saved due to the efforts of JCI Dhaka Cosmopolitan members and local community partners. The project aims to help at least 1000 women this year alone, and 2000 next year. Further plans aim to incorporate MDG #4, reduce child mortality, on a broader level by providing more vaccinations, vitamins and consultations to newborn babies across the Dhaka region. 

JCI Dhaka Cosmopolitan shows young active citizens how to effectively use the JCI Active Citizen Framework to conduct a needs analysis and involve local partners to create sustainable impact in a community. Health and wellness is the first stage of community development and by focusing on MDGs #4 and #5, JCI members help citizens get healthy, leading them to be productive at home, school and in the workplace.

Thank you to JCI Dhaka Cosmopolitan Local President Sarah Kamal for providing information for this story.

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