18 June 2011, Dhaka. Christy Turlington Burns, American fashion icon, activist and women’s health advocate, spent the afternoon in the Kunipara slum in Bara Magh Bazar, Dhaka, visiting various maternal health initiatives run by BRAC.
Turlington Burns and her team, who reached Dhaka earlier this morning, braved the torrential downpour to make their way to BRAC’s delivery centre in Kunipara. While there, they met with BRAC’s community health volunteer, health worker and urban birth attendants (UBAs) who deliver babies at the centre, supervised by trained Manoshi mid wives. They also talked to several pregnant women attending an Expected Date of Delivery mothers’ meeting to become oriented with the centre where they will be giving birth. They also spoke to Aklima Begum, who gave birth to a healthy baby girl at the centre last night with the help of UBA Joba Begum.
BRAC Community health worker Firoza Begum (2nd from left) demonstrates to Christy Turlington Burns (4th from left) how she uses mobile health technology to collect information about her clients, pregnant women such as Zulekha (3rd from left)
The team followed local BRAC health worker Feroza Begum on one of her routine household visits to the home of Zulekha Begum, who is eight month’s pregnant. They observed as Feroza conducted general tests during an ante natal check up and collected information and photos of Zulekha’s condition using mobile technology. The team members were particularly impressed with the level of access and acceptability BRAC’s health staff and volunteers had with the slum community.
"Like so many others, I was thrilled to read the new statistics about Bangladesh’s progress reducing maternal mortality but this visit has been especially heartening for me as I've had a chance to see a real difference even since my last visit in 2009. More women are seeking out the sort of trained assistance in pregnancy and delivery that BRAC has made available and that's making a real impact," stated Turlington Burns. commend BRAC on the role they have been playing in these achievements".
This is Turlington Burns’s second visit to Bangladesh. In 2009, she travelled here to film a segment of her directorial debut, No Woman, No Cry, a documentary chronicling the global plight of pregnant women lacking access to timely and critical care. She is returning for the Bangladesh premiere of the film, to be held on Monday at ICDDR,B in Dhaka. Accompanying her on the trip are photojournalist Josh Estey, founder of Dooce.com Heather B. Armstrong and Erin Thornton, the Executive Director of Every Mother Counts, an advocacy and mobilization campaign started by Turlington Burns to increase education and support for maternal and child health.