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Worldwide, 303 000 women die each year as a result of complications related to childbirth and close to 3 million children do not survive their first month of life. Research shows that infant and maternal mortality radically decreases when there are clinically trained midwives available.

In Bangladesh, where maternal mortality sits at an average of 170 per 100 000, the midwifery profession is new and under development. There are about 1000 midwives for a population of approximately 160 million. Most women give birth at home without access to professional care. Geographical realities, power structures within the family and a lack of care facilities and educated staff are obstacles when it comes to women's sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Since 2016, Dalarna University has worked in collaboration with UNFPA to develop the midwifery profession in Bangladesh, and on December 3, the first 31 students to have taken the web-based master's programme for midwifery teachers were assessed.

Examples of the subjects on which they wrote their theses are:

  • Quality evaluations of midwifery training programmes
  • Development of mentorship programmes
  • Obstacles that exist for midwifery
  • Family planning and safe abortion care

"Dalarna University is a university that wants to make a difference, and that is exactly what we are doing in Bangladesh," states Kerstin Erlandsson, who - together with Christina Pedersen and Ulrika Byrskog - has worked throughout this autumn to build up the capacity of midwifery teachers in Bangladesh.

Along with the master's programme, an accreditation system has been built up and higher education strengthened with a syllabus for a bachelor's degree and the opportunity for studies at the doctoral level. The midwifery teachers who are now completing their studies have been involved in the development of the mentorship programme that is in place. Further, methodological exercises have strengthened the teaching competency of the midwifery teachers, while a "massive online" course is currently under development that will provide information about the midwifery profession. Emilia Henriksson spent one week filming the studentspresenting their theses and attending classes in the course that is currently under development.

The Master's Programme on the subject of sexual, reproductive and perinatal health and the growing involvement of Dalarna University are financed by the Styrelsen för internationellt utvecklingsarbete (Sida), the Canadian International Development Agency and the Department for International Development (DIFD) that is managed by the United Nation's Population Fund (UNFPA). UNFPA  has this as its mission: "Delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled".