As a gynecologist in Bangladesh, Dr. Ferdousi Begum saw firsthand the effects of that country’s staggering infant mortality rate.
And while she worked hard to save as many patients as possible, she knew that the poorest, most rural communities in her country needed more than she—or the limited number of other doctors like her—could provide. So she began training volunteers to provide basic care to pregnant women in their own communities. Since 2005, Dr. Begum’s dedication has had remarkable results: She has trained 3,200 volunteers, who have provided care to 300,000 women, treated 83,000 kids for pneumonia and diarrhea, and done much more.
Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2008, Save the Children hired Dr. Begum to serve as the program manager for its Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health division. Save the Children is one of the foundation’s key partners, and we’re excited about the lifesaving work they are doing, with Dr. Begum’s leadership, to deliver proven interventions and save lives in Bangladesh and other countries. Thanks to efforts like theirs, there are encouraging signs of new momentum on maternal and child health. For the first time in decades, the number of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth has dropped significantly, and child deaths continue to decline.
Here at the Gates Foundation, improving the health of mothers and young children is one of our top priorities. As Melinda Gates shared yesterday in her speech at Women Deliver, we are committed to developing and delivering solutions to ensure that mothers and their children around the world have the chance to thrive.
Learn more about Dr. Begum and Save the Children’s work in Bangladesh, in this profile by GOOD Magazine.