The biggest victims of a poverty stricken country are its children. Bangladesh has a poor track record when it has come to kids health. Most of the children in the country specially in the rural areas suffer from acute malnutrition. The problem gets aggravated as Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with nearly 1,000 people per square kilometer. Although there has been considerable progress in the last 15 years the health of children in Bangladesh is being described as one of the severe in South Asia.
According to WHO estimate, “The infant mortality rate is 66.7 per 1000 live births, with the neonatal mortality rate also 42 per 1000 live births. Bangladesh, a country with annual birth of close to 4 million, still has a very high maternal mortality rate estimated at 3.2 to 4 per 1000 live births. Eighty percent of the maternal deaths happen at home as because more than 90% of deliveries occur at home attended by traditional birth attendants (75.6 percent) and relatives (10.8 percent). Deliveries by a medical trained person are 11.6 percent, i.e. 6.5 percent doctors and 5.3 percent by nurse-midwives/Family Welfare Visitors/others. 47.5 percent of pregnant women avail one or more antenatal care check”.
Malnutrition, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles, injuries are contributing to the high rate of neonatal deaths in the country. Nearly one-half of all children below the age of five years are either underweight or stunted. The poor child health care facilities in the country means that most of these children are not vaccinated exposing them to the threats of life threatening diseases.
There is lack of awareness among women folk in the country concerning basic issues relating to kids health is another key reason resulting in the high mortality rate in children. Some of the areas where more attention need to be focused are:
1. Educating the women folk on the basics of child health care which includes things like importance of breast feeding. This is a very challenging affair considering the high level of illiteracy in the country.
2. Stressing on equal care for the girl child. The track record of Bangladesh on the girl child is not impressive like it’s South Asian neighbor India.
3.Making people specially the parents aware of the basic nutritional requirement of a child. Giving them proper break up of the food items required to attain those minimum levels of nutrition.
3. Awareness campaigns on the importance of vaccination for the children of all ages in the country.
4. Regular counseling to pregnant women regarding childbirth and advise them on the required nutritional level during their pregnancy.
5. Encourage women to give birth with assistance from trained health personnel and in a health facility. In absence of a proper medical facility experienced midwives, or trained birth attendants should be present during the child birth.
The recent years have shown some improvement as far as child health care is concerned but Bangladesh has a long way to go to achieve the minimum nutritional and other health level in children.