-Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC Founder and Chairperson-
BRAC believes that supporting health care, particularly for mothers and children, is an investment in our future. Healthy, educated, and empowered mothers make better decisions for themselves and their children. A woman’s health and nutrition during pregnancy also has a profound impact on the long-term trajectory of her child’s life.
The first 1,000 days, from conception to the child’s second birthday, is a window of opportunity that determines his or her ability to learn, grow and develop. As a result, maternal, neonatal and child health care (MNCH) is one of the best investments that can be made.
In Bangladesh, one-third of the population lives in urban areas. People living in slums face some of the country’s worst health outcomes. In rural areas people face similarly poor health outcomes but experience a different set of challenges to accessing care. To meet the needs of these vulnerable communities, BRAC developed its Essential Healthcare Program, facilitated through a network of community health workers. These community health workers deliver care door-to-door and are trained to recognize symptoms, refer patients to local clinics or hospitals, and ensure treatment and therapy compliance.
BRAC’s health programs have seen great success in Bangladesh – halving the maternal mortality rate in five years – and are being adopted and scaled internationally.
At the heart of BRAC’s health programs, are trained and dedicated community health workers who motivate, educate and prepare expectant mothers for birth, supporting women from the beginning of their pregnancies through the child’s first months. These women are volunteers from the communities who receive training and supplies from BRAC. They sell health supplies such as birthing kits, sanitary pads and malaria medication to receive a small profit.
BRAC Delivery Centers
These programs work hand-in-hand with BRAC Delivery Centers, established to provide intranatal, delivery and emergency care.
Through education, research, prevention and treatment, BRAC reduces the burden of infectious disease on vulnerable populations, especially women and children, and works to see a world where no one dies from preventable infections. Community health workers are trained to recognize symptoms, refer patients to local clinics or hospitals, and ensure treatment and therapy compliance. They play a critical role in educating communities and increasing access to preventative services and treatment at the last mile, holding sensitization and advocacy meetings to make communities aware of symptoms and create early care seeking behavior.
TOMS PartnershipBRAC has teamed up with TOMS to provide 20,000 safe births. For every TOMS bag purchased, TOMS supports one of BRAC’s community health workers to provide a safe birth for a mother in need. Read more
Living Goods PartnershipIn Uganda, BRAC and Living Goods are working to reduce maternal and child mortality by 20% through financially self-sustaining social enterprise. Living Goods and BRAC Community Health Promoters, who earn dignified wages by selling health products, conduct home visits, educate households on essential health behaviors, diagnose and treat childhood illnesses, and support pregnancies and newborns. Read more
BRAC increases maternal, neo-natal, child health services in LiberiaThe Daily Observer explores how BRAC is working with the Liberian government to improve the country’s health systems. “Learning to recognize high risks in pregnancy,” Kumasa Mulbah, a health coordinator said, “is included in a series of trainings conducted by BRAC in partnership with the Ministry of Health, where all of the community health promoters and trained traditional midwives are taught to encourage pregnant women go to health facilities as often as possible.”
Safe Beginings: The Manoshi Program
BRAC’s Manoshi program is changing pregnancy and delivery in Bangladesh’s urban slums. Meet some of the women who are part of BRAC’s Manoshi program including Simruti Provati Rani Das, a 21-year old expectant mother from Dhaka’s Begunbari Bari slum, Kajol Rekha, a BRAC Community Health Worker, and Niasha Begum, a BRAC Community Midwife.