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Ensuring Safe Motherhood

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Gynaecologists say early marriage poses a challenge towards ensuring safe motherhood. It was a reported by a news agency recently that Rubi, a resident of Faridpur upazila of Pabna district of 20 years age gave birth to a male baby, she is again expecting. All members of the family expected that she would give birth to a female child this time. But an ultra sonogram report says she would give birth to a male child this time too. After this information, all reportedly became disappointed. An elderly birth attendants of the village had been informed of the matter. But Rubi was not keeping well due to lack of nutrition and proper care. Her husband on an emergency basis took her to a clinic at the upazila headquarters and at last she gave birth to a healthy male child.

Incidents of early marriage are still happening in rural areas of the country although early marriage is prohibited legally, and after marriage of adolescent girls they become mothers for which they face various health complications. Around 50 per cent of the girls are getting married before the age of 18 although the Child Marriage Act disallows marriage before the legal age of 18 for girls, according to a latest millennium development goal (MDG) report.

Around 20,000 women die every year during delivery and most of them die of severe bleeding infections, obstructed labor and due to consequences of unsafe abortion. Besides, about 18 per cent women suffer from pregnancy related complications. Bangladesh witnessed a sharp decline in maternal mortality rate (MMR) from 574 (per 1000 live births) in 1990 to 391 in 2002, but experts say the ratio was not up to the desired level. Given the situation, the government has taken up massive awareness programmes focusing on char areas and in the districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) amid at reaching health care facilities to the door steps of rural people. The programme includes increasing the number of health professionals, and training programmes for nurses, doctors and health workers.

The government took safe motherhood and population control programmes aimed at reducing maternal mortality rate (MMR) at 143 in 1000 and 21 in each 1000 live births to achieve the millennium development goal (MDGs) by 2015. Poverty of parents are also compelling their to give them daughters in early marriage. Rural monitoring must be intensified and Nekah Registers must be cautioned against early marriage. Monitoring cell must be formed in all union parishads to check unbridled early marriage found to be too common in rural areas.

Religious leaders should motivate the people to refrain from getting their daughters in early marriage and with the assistance of gynecologists try to convince the guardians to abide by the law and thus save the girl from various complications.