Maternal Health Supplies in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, maternal mortality appears to be declining; however, with at least 322 maternal deaths per 100,000 births, the country still has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios (MMR) in the world, and the highest in South Asia. Bangladesh is unlikely to achieve domestic and international targets on the reduction of maternal mortality. Improving access to supplies (medicines and equipment) is an essential component of strengthening maternal health programs and outcomes. Maternal health challenges cross the entire health system, with deeply embedded issues of human resources, infrastructure, competing priorities and community engagement. Shortages of supplies are identified by stakeholders in Bangladesh as a direct barrier to utilization and positive outcomes at health facilities. These shortages are consequences of constraints on the country’s health system, including underfunding, inefficiencies and a weak infrastructure. Supplies are a tangible and visible entry point to raise awareness and commitment to maternal and reproductive health. This report tracks four maternal health supplies: oxytocin, misoprostol, magnesium sulfate and manual vacuum aspirators (MVAs). These supplies address three of the most common direct causes of maternal mortality in Asia. This study assesses the factors that inhibit access to maternal health supplies in Bangladesh and the importance of overcoming shortages of these supplies to achieve improved maternal, reproductive, newborn and child health.


Bergeson-Lockwood, J., Madsen, E. L., & Bernstein, J. (2010). Maternal health supplies in Bangladesh.

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