On a shaded veranda outside the Horinagor Mother and Child Care Centre, a midwife meets with a group of moms who recently gave birth at the facility, and explains the nutritional and health benefits of breastfeeding.

The centre, in Satkhira district of southwestern Bangladesh, is one 56 Mother and Child Health Care Centres set up and administered by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society to ensure that hundreds of thousands of women, infants and children in 29 districts have access to essential health services.

In the past year alone, BDRCS-trained midwives delivered over 5,500 babies at the centres and provided over 20,500 women with antenatal and postnatal care, including immunizations, information about infant and child nutrition, guidance on breastfeeding and regular health check-ups.  These programmes, and regular monitoring and mentoring visits by BDRCS health specialists, ensure that women like Jamila Khatun (pictured) and her newborn have the best possible care.

Holy Family Red Crescent Medical College Hospital, like most of the BDRCS-supported facilities, is open 24 hours a day.  Midwives, like this woman, reside at the centres to ensure deliveries and other care and support are available at any time to women in the community.

“The availability of 24 / 7 services from the centres contributes to the effort by the Government of Bangladesh to promote institutional deliveries by trained health professionals,” says Raqibul Asam, with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Bangladesh.  “It’s also a great example of how the Red Cross and Red Crescent and our BDRCS colleagues are working to reach the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing childhood and maternal mortality.”

All photos were taken by: Bangladesh -Red Crescent Societytrr2