BRAC Institute of Global Health’s (BIGH) midwifery department is leading a community-based midwifery diploma programme (CMDP), in partnership with national non-governmental implementing partner organisations (IPOs). This innovative educational initiative, funded by DFID, with technical support from Jhpiego, the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Bangladesh (OGSB) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), is the first of its kind in the private sector of Bangladesh.
The programme is designed to recruit students from remote and underserved areas with high maternal and newborn health needs, build their capacity through a three-year residential diploma in midwifery and deploy midwives in their respective communities upon graduation.
November 9, 2013 marked a special day for the programme and its first-year midwifery students. BRAC’s founder and chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed visited Shimantik and FIVDB, two Sylhet-based IPOs. Accompanying Sir Fazle were Dr Ahmed Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, BRAC vice-chair, Faruque Ahmed, executive director of BRAC International programmes, Dr Kaosar Afsana, director of BRAC’s health programme, Ismat Bhuiya, director of the midwifery programme, and other staff. The high profile visit was intended to strengthen links between BRAC and the BIGH and build a workforce dedicated to saving the lives of mothers and newborns in communities.
Students interacting with the BRAC founder and chair and the BRAC vice-chair while presenting academic posters
The BRAC founder and chairperson and senior executives visited the academic and residential facilities of Shimantik in Sylhet and FIVDB in Khadimnagar, meeting students, faculty, clinical preceptors and programme personnel. The first-year students enrolled in BRAC University’s midwifery programme introduced themselves, and informed the high profile visitors of the union each student represents. In a question and answer session that followed, Sir Fazle asked students questions on the modules covered in their curriculum, which include topics related to health systems, community health, the role of midwives, life cycle nutrition, basic sciences, antenatal care and birth preparedness, childbirth and immediate newborn care, breastfeeding and postnatal care, as well as others.
Student discussing community health with Sir Fazle and senior BRAC executives
Students also discussed with Sir Fazle the importance of using visual aids in their learning and tools like partographs to assess the progress of labour. Sir Fazle spoke to students about being advocates of knowledge on safe motherhood within their local communities, dispelling myths and practices that harm mothers and their newborns. He emphasised the importance of actively engaging in their own communities through excellent service and expressed BRAC’s support in helping them become leaders in the field of maternal and newborn health.
“As members of the first batch of this programme, you will avail plenty of opportunities and emerge as champions in your chosen profession. Some of you will go on to earn your BSc in midwifery, others will one day earn a PhD. Work hard and success will come to you in different forms. For some, success will appear as leadership positions in the field of midwifery both at home and abroad. For others, success will mean having a record of not letting a single mother you have cared for over your career die during childbirth.”
- Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC Founder and Chair
The visit offered a unique opportunity for students to interact directly with Sir Fazle and the senior executives of BRAC, as they answered Sir Fazle’s questions about their educational experience and professional ambitions and discussed what healthy motherhood would look like for Bangladeshi mothers with midwives available in every union.
“When I was working as a data collector on a research project on CBS, as led by BRAC and icddr,b, I watched a video on Sir Fazle and his tremendous contributions to health, education and development in Bangladesh. Today was a dream come true for me. I got to see Sir Fazle in person. I’m not forgetting today.”
- Shamsunnahar, 27, a first-year midwifery student and a mother of two from Dewargaach Union, Chunarughat