Bangladesh

Photo by Pathfinder Bangladesh

In 1957, Pathfinder’s founder funded Bangladesh’s national Family Planning Association. This became a model for our work, building the capacity of governments and local organizations to foster sustainable improvements in reproductive health.

Photo by Pathfinder Bangladesh

By 1978, Pathfinder supported 14 urban NGOs when we decided to launch a community-based system of contraceptive distribution, one of the earliest and most innovative models.

Photo by Olivia Moseley

The system focused on expanding acceptance and use of contraception by providing it to women within their own neighborhoods. This model of empowering local women to reach out to their peers with critical services has become a hallmark of our work.

Photo by T. Cody Swift

Through more than 30 projects, Pathfinder has played a key role in helping to reach underserved populations, improve the quality of sexual and reproductive health services, and strengthen more than 60 Bangladeshi partner NGOs.

Photo by T. Cody Swift

During this time, population growth and total fertility have decreased by half, and the health of women and families is improving.

Photo by Mary Burket

Despite successes in reducing total fertility, Bangladesh remains one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Yearly flooding and a shortage of trained health personnel—continue to bar women from accessing the services they need.

Photo by Olivia Moseley

So Pathfinder is working to reach them. Through our programs, we continue to lead capacity building efforts, as well as improvements in health services for Bangladeshi women, especially those who are hardest to reach.

Pathfinder International works in Bangladesh on a range of sexual and reproductive health issues—from family planning to maternal and newborn care—with a special focus on reaching underserved populations.

Why Pathfinder Works in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world-and growing. The current population of Bangladesh is projected to reach 230-250 million by 2050, even if replacement fertility is reached today. With more than 2,500 people per square mile, many Bangladeshis are landless or are forced to live on and cultivate flood-prone land. About a third of the country floods during the monsoon season every year, creating a relief crisis and hampering regular development efforts. Bangladesh is also currently experiencing a nationwide shortage of trained health personnel with only five doctors for every 10,000 people on average and only one doctor per 10,000 people living in rural areas.

Bangladesh is declared by WHO as one of the 58 crisis countries facing an acute human resources for health crisis.

Pathfinder has been a leader in the reproductive health and family planning movement in Bangladesh since the early 1950s. Since that time, through more than 30 projects, Pathfinder has played a key role in helping Bangladesh develop and integrate its national family planning and maternal-child health programs, reach underserved populations, improve quality of services, and build the capacity of partner NGOs. The Pathfinder country office was established in 1978 and since then Pathfinder has implemented numerous projects focused on improving access to reproductive health care, contraception, and education. Of those projects, three were the largest health programs in the region during their implementation. From 1978 through 2011 Pathfinder has served about 14 percent of Bangladesh's population, urban and rural, in 61 of 64 districts.

Only 32 percent of births in Bangladesh are attended by a skilled health provider and 49 percent of pregnant women receive no antenatal care from a trained provider.

Evidence for Decision-Making

A key aspect of Pathfinder's approach to systems' strengthening is collecting evidence that enables public, private and community partners to make informed health-related decisions. In Bangladesh, examples of the kinds of evidence we collect range from "the number of children receiving immunizations " and "the number of individuals who received management for sexually-transmitted or reproductive tract infection services" to "the number of children receiving treatment for diarrheal diseases or given referrals to other facilities." Some illustrative data from Pathfinder's work in Bangladesh suggests that:

  • Pathfinder has worked with more than 60 NGOs, 319 static clinics, about 8,000 satellite clinics, 5,000 staff, and 6,000 community workers
  • In 2006, under the Pathfinder-led USAID NGO Service Delivery Project, there were 22 million customer contacts at Smiling Sun clinics and 10 million customer visits for family planning
  • Under Pathfinder's maternal health work from 2009-2011, 14,481 pregnant women registered and were provided with essential information regarding healthy deliveries and the warning signs and treatment for postpartum hemorrhage
  • In the first two years of the Sustainable Health Services for Isolated Populations project, Pathfinder provided more than 24,000 health services to Bangladeshis living in one of the most remote areas of Bangladesh

Building Capacity, Strengthening Systems

In Bangladesh, Pathfinder provides technical assistance to non-governmental partner organizations to address the changing health needs of the country. Pathfinder ensures that staff are appropriately trained and qualified for the work they undertake. By partnering with local governments, businesses, NGOs, provider associations, universities, community organizations, and other institutions, Pathfinder creates innovative programs that are responsive to the health needs of individual communities. Our implementation approach involves working with specific target groups, such as community leaders and newlywed couples, to ensure a quality of care that is satisfactory to the people that we serve.

DONATE NOW TO SUPPORT OUR WORK IN PLACES LIKE Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, one of the most densely-populated countries in the world, there is one doctor on average for every 10,000 people. Your gift of $25 or $50 helps women and families access contraception, maternal and newborn care services, and a range of other reproductive health services.

Our Projects

NGO Health Service Delivery thumbnail

NGO Health Service Delivery Project (NHSDP)

Systems Strengthening Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health Maternal & Newborn Health Contraception & Family Planning

The NGO Health Service Delivery Project focuses on technical assistance and capacity building to local non-government organizations to manage and provide quality services reaching underserved populations in Bangladesh.

Related Publications

June 2014

Research and Evaluation Working Paper Series

The purpose of the Working Paper Series is to disseminate work in progress by Pathfinder International staff on critical issues of population, reproductive health, and development.

December 2013

The Way We Live: Advancing Health & Rights Through Integration

In a year of remarkable achievement, including Pathfinder’s landmark victory at the US Supreme Court and our return to Bangladesh with a $53.8 million project, what was most exciting? The answer—integration—is the theme of Pathfinder’s 2013 Annual Report.

January 2010

The Role of Pregnancy Outcomes in the Maternal Mortality Rates of Two Areas in Matlab, Bangladesh

Matlab, a subdistrict of Bangladesh, is well known for its Demographic Surveillance System (DSS) and its Maternal Child Health Family Planning (MCH-family planning) project, which provides intensive family planning and maternal and child health services.

January 2010

ESD Model: Mobilizing Muslim Imams and Religious Leaders as "Champions" of Reproductive Health and Family Planning

This paper depicts ESD's model for engaging religious leaders as "champions" of reproductive health and family planning, which is applied in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen.

Related News

Panel Examines What Drives Health Advancements in Bangladesh

Pathfinder's Dr. Halida Akhter reports on a recent panel's discussion around what has driven health advancements in Bangladesh and how those findings can be applied elsewhere.

New Innovations for Preventing and Treating Postpartum Hemorrhage Are Saving Women’s Lives

NASG Use in Nigeria
New research and analysis from Pathfinder International, the University of California San Francisco Safe Motherhood Program, and PATH shows that innovative, collaborative efforts to address postpartum hemorrhage are working.
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