Safe MR to Ensure SRHR: Royal Swedish Embassy in Dhaka and RHSTEP Forged Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health Program

The Royal Swedish Embassy in Dhaka and the Reproductive Health Services, Training and Education Program (RHSTEP) have embarked on a pivotal initiative to enhance sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Bangladesh. On May 30, 2024, Deputy Head of Mission, Counselor Ms. Maria Britt-Ulla Stridsman of the Embassy of Sweden, and Quazi Suraiya Sultana, Executive Director of RHSTEP, signed an agreement to launch the “Strengthening of Safe Menstrual Regulation (MR) and Family Planning Services and Reduction of Unsafe Abortions for Improving SRHR Situation in Bangladesh” project.

“Empowering women with comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services is crucial for gender equality and women’s empowerment,” said Ms. Maria Britt-Ulla Stridsman. This project is designed to address critical issues in menstrual hygiene, sexual health, reproductive rights, and family planning, directly contributing to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to health, gender equality, and reduced inequalities.

The SRHR consortium in Bangladesh, comprising RHSTEP and the Association for Prevention of Septic Abortion (BAPSA), will spearhead this initiative from March 2024 to December 2025. Their efforts will focus on providing safe menstrual regulation and family planning services, with a significant push to reduce unsafe abortions. “This collaboration is a significant step towards improving reproductive health services and ensuring that women have access to safe and informed reproductive choices,” remarked Quazi Suraiya Sultana.

The Embassy of Sweden’s commitment to this cause is not new. In 2021, they partnered with RHSTEP on a similar agreement worth Tk 119.88 million (Swedish Kroner 12 million) to support the “Safe MR Project Phase-II.” This earlier phase, from January to December 2022, built on a four-year project that ran from October 2017 to September 2021, involving an investment of Tk 4.84 million (Swedish Kroner 48.5 million). Implemented across 22 districts, this initiative was pivotal in establishing a robust foundation for the current project.

Second Secretary and Controller, Development Cooperation Amada Weibull, and Senior Program Officer/Health Advisor Dr. Mohammad Zahirul Islam from the Embassy of Sweden, along with RHSTEP Deputy Executive Director Md Ashiqul Islam, attended the signing ceremony. Their presence underscores the collaborative spirit and shared vision for improving SRHR in Bangladesh.

This strategic alliance highlights the interconnectedness of SRHR with broader global goals, emphasising that access to safe and effective reproductive health services is a cornerstone for sustainable development. By addressing these critical issues, the project aims to make a substantial impact on the health and well-being of women in Bangladesh, fostering a society where gender equality and women’s empowerment are realised.

Source: RHSTEP
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