Train and Empower Local Women to Become Community Health Leaders in Bangladesh

Charity: Opportunity International Australia
Location: Bangladesh
Genre: Health
For millions living in poverty, healthcare is unaffordable and inaccessible, with further inequalities for those in rural and remote areas.

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The pandemic has exacerbated challenges with disruptions to health services and increased economic pressure on families.

  • 930 million people worldwide at risk of falling into poverty due to out-of-pocket health spending of 10% or more of household budget
  • 60 million lives could be saved and 3.7 years added to average life expectancy with greater access to primary healthcare
  • 18 million health worker shortfall expected in low income countries by 2030, deepening inequality in access to healthcare

How does Opportunity International Australia’s project address this problem?

For a woman living in poverty, health is her main asset – her family and livelihood depend on it. That’s why we leverage our microfinance network to support health systems. Integration of health and microfinance offers a scalable way to empower organised communities of disadvantaged women to improve access to healthcare. Community health education changed Rahima’s life and the lives of other women in her community.

Communities educated by Health Leaders trained by Opportunity partners, experience better long term health of mothers and children, reporting an increase of:

  • 25% in health knowledge, attitudes and practices
  • 50% in menstrual and reproductive health knowledge
  • 38% in maternal health knowledge
  • 33% in health knowledge among the least literate

$10,000 can help train 9 Health Leaders and 2 Health Entrepreneurs, reaching thousands of people with knowledge and access to vital services.

Rahima’s Story – Life Changing Health Education

Rahima was born in a poor village in Bangladesh. When she grew older, she suffered severe iron deficiency anaemia, which got worse when she fell pregnant. Struggling for seven years to access treatment, Rahima’s concern for the health of women in her community grew.

A microfinance client of Opportunity International Australia’s program partner in Bangladesh, Rahima was invited to train to become a Health Leader in her community. Once trained as a frontline health worker, she undertook a community survey to assess the health needs of 213 households in her area.

Her survey identified health issues like nutrition and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as antenatal and postnatal care. Rahima now supports her community with targeted, door-to-door education five-to-six days a week.

Proud of her work, Rahima is already noticing changes amongst the community members who participate in her sessions. Expectant mothers are completing antenatal check-ups and avoiding heavy physical labour during pregnancy, and nutrition levels in the community are improving. She’s even helped five women avoid the anaemia she suffered herself by enabling them to access iron supplements.

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