Questions from the Past

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While most NGOs are focusing on underserved rural communities, the BRAC Manoshi project is one that is addressing a problem much closer to home. The Manoshi program is an MNCH (Maternal, Neo-natal and Child Health) service that provides poor, underserved women in the urban slums of Dhaka city with much needed support to deal with the complications of child birth. Since 2010 mPower Social Enterprises Ltd. has been working with BRAC Manoshi to facilitate their services through the use of technology.

On the 5th of September 2013, we made our way to a slum in Badda, one of the key operational fields of the Manoshi program to see how the program was being run. Casual observations and conversations revealed certain highly interesting insights.

Probably the most intriguing insight for me personally was that each health worker received only 18 days worth of training, after which she was adequately equipped to deal with the most common and frequently occurring problems faced by the majority of women in urban slums. They were able to identify and treat the most common health issues faced by the women living in urban slums, conduct basic procedures like measuring blood pressure and even conduct routine examinations on expecting mothers. On detecting any complications, the health worker can then refer patients to the nearest medical facility where other members of the Manoshi program are present to facilitate an otherwise lengthy and rather bureaucratic process of seeking healthcare.

But let’s go back to the 18 day training. If it only takes 18 days to educate a person (with no background in healthcare or medicine )to adequately prepare them to address the common health problems in a community AND deal with a process as complicated and demanding as childbirth, then why is access to healthcare still one of our most pressing challenges?

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Posted by Ahmed Abu Bakr

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