Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Matlab - Caring for the Rural Woman

On Wednesday, June 18th, 4 other foreign interns and I set off to the village of Matlab on a what was supposed to be a 4 hour drive. But as my fellow interns quickly learned, and I re-learned, nothing in Bangladesh is what it is “supposed” to be. You should just learn to improvise and “go with the flow” as every local will tell you time and again.

As such, after getting lost and ending up at the wrong iccdr,b subcentre, we finally arrived in iccdr,b’s main Matlab hospital- about 4 hours later than we were expected. After wolfing down anything and everything in front of us, we set off on a tour of this amazing place.

To understand why Matlab is so unique, you need to know a little bit of background of rural life in Bangladesh. There are still many places in Bangladesh that has no access to electricity, clean water or healthcare. In a situation like this Matlab hospital opened its’ doors and contributed significantly to the development of this little town. Now the hospital treats diarrheal patients from all over the region and it takes care of the pre-natal, delivery and post-natal care of all the women and children in the population of 225,000 that is under their jurisdiction. Matlab can boast that since they started maternal care they have increased the number of deliveries in a hospital setting from an insignificant amount to a startling 90+%. The maternal mortality rate in Bangladesh is unacceptably high, and one of the reasons is that many poor, rural women give birth at homes without any medical supervision. In a place, where most don’t have any motor vehicles available, they cannot be transported in time to receive life saving care. Matlab hospital has changed all of that and provided an example for all of Bangladesh to follow. In fact, it is because of the great work of icddr,b that the small town of Matlab is now known country wide.


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