Maternal Aid Association in Bangladesh
Medical students from King’s College London volunteered in Bangladesh for nine days as part of the Maternal Aid Association
Maternal Aid Association (MAA) is a grassroots student-led charity striving to improve healthcare in resource-poor settings such as Bangladesh. It aims to bring about safe, effective and high quality maternal healthcare. MAA was founded by Aqil Jaigirdar, a 4th year King’s College London medical student. The team comprises current King’s College London healthcare students, supported by Professor Janice Rymer, Vice President for the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Professor of Gynaecology at King’s College London, and Consultant Gynaecologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’, and Dr Daghni Rajasingham, Consultant Obstetrician Guy’s and St Thomas’.
The aim of the 2017 Summer Bangladesh trip (JourneyMaa) was to continue providing high quality sustainable maternal care in rural areas of the country. MAA has established strong links with British healthcare professionals and Bangladeshi universities, medical professionals and healthcare students, enabling a long-term sustainable relationship built between two countries. As a result MAA is able to co-operate, monitor and evaluate the implementation of innovative work that will improve maternal healthcare in Bangladesh.
JourneyMaa took place between the 15 – 23 August 2017 and is the charity’s second overseas trip. A multidisciplinary team of British healthcare professionals and students returned to Balaganj, as well as visiting a new village, Ramsiri; both of which are in Sylhet, Bangladesh. The trip was led by Fatnin Mohd Fuad, 2nd year medical student at King’s College London.
Students worked alongside Bangladeshi healthcare professionals from the Sylhet Women Medical College. The team participated in four days of health camps; two at Balaganj, Sylhet, and two at Ramsiri, Sylhet.
Main activities included:
- Offering basic health checks for mothers in rural parts of Bangladesh
- Educating mothers and young female students between the ages of 12-16 in rural communities about safe motherhood and early new-born care through educational workshops
- Running workshops with Bangladeshi-trained midwives, doctors and traditional birth-attendants to enhance the safety of home deliveries
- Providing simple and free medication that can help prevent maternal deaths and ill-health
- Visiting both rural and urban Bangladeshi hospitals to understand and appreciate how the healthcare varies across different settings.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), women in Bangladesh are 21 times more likely to die from maternal causes compared to the UK.
This year’s health camps reached more than 200 pregnant women, as well as more than 80 young female students.
Tafsir Ahmed, JourneyMaa UK Volunteer, said:
I heard the story of a mother that I will never forget, in either my professional or personal life. Her name was Ruhena and she had trekked 4 hours, by boat, rickshaw and on foot, to see us at the MAA clinic. This was her 5th pregnancy, but she only had 1 living son. She had lost 3 of her babies at 2, 3 and 9 months. She was at least in her mid-30s and said that she wouldn’t have had another baby but she wanted to make things right with this one. Ruhena was trying to do everything within her capabilities as a mother- braving the floods, heat and travel, to do better for her new child’s health.
Despite her poignant story, Ruhena was the most joyful person I had met today, always with a smile on her face. To me, her story of determination, self-awareness and bravery is an inspiration to me. The purpose of MAA’s trip to Bangladesh is epitomised by this incredible woman.
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