Effective multi-sectoral approach for rapid reduction in maternal and neonatal mortality: The exceptional case of Bangladesh

Aniqa Tasnim Hossain, Elizabeth A. Hazel, Ahmed Ehsanur Rahman, Adam D. Koon, Heather Jue Wong, Abdoulaye Maïga, Nadia Akseer, Yvonne Tam, Neff Walker, Safia S. Jiwani, Melinda Kay Munos, Shams El Arifeen, Robert Black, Agbessi Amouzou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


analysed available household surveys for trends and inequalities in mortality, intervention coverage and quality of care. These include 12 household surveys totalling over 1.3 million births in the 15 years preceding the surveys. Literature and desk reviews permitted a reconstruction of policy and programme development and financing since 1990. These were supplemented with key informant interviews to understand implementation decisions and strategies. Results Bangladesh prioritised early population policies to manage its rapidly growing population through community-based family planning programmes initiated in mid-1970s. These were followed in the 1990s and 2000s by priority to increase access to health facilities leading to rapid increases in facility delivery, intervention coverage and access to emergency obstetric care, with large contribution from private facilities. A decentralised health system organisation, from communities to the central level, openness to private for-profit sector growth, and efficient financing allocation to maternal and newborn health enabled rapid progress. Other critical levers included poverty reduction, women empowerment, rural development, and culture of data generation and use. However, recent empirical data suggest a slowing down of mortality reductions. Conclusion Bangladesh demonstrated effective multi-sectoral approach and persistent programming, testing and implementation to achieve rapid gains in maternal and neonatal mortality reduction. The slowing down of recent mortality trends suggests that the country will need to revise its strategies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. As fertility reached replacement level, further gains in maternal and neonatal mortality will require prioritising universal access to quality facility delivery, and addressing inequalities, including reaching the rural poor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere011407
JournalBMJ Global Health
StatePublished - May 6 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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