Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – A U.S.-funded health initiative called “Mayer Hashi” (“Smiling Mother”) has been introduced aiming to facilitate health care in Bangladesh.

Health Minister A.F.M. Ruhal Haque and U.S. Ambassador James Moriarty launched the new health initiative on Thursday to improve women’s and children’s health by increasing access to permanent methods (LAPM) of family planning.

“The project will also raise awareness among health care workers about pregnancy-related complications allowing them to identify and treat these life-threatening conditions at an early stage,” a U.S. embassy press statement said in Dhaka, adding that the U.S. government, through USAID, is funding this $12 million program.  

According to the latest Bangladesh Demographic Survey, 62 percent of women do not want more children, yet only 7 percent use LAPM.

Smiling Mother will work with health care providers, the Bangladesh government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to improve information about family planning and train professionals to provide safe LAPM service, according to the statement.  

“This program will provide access to LAPM to five million married couples in Sylhet, Chittagong and Barisal. Mayer Hashi will also target rural areas where LAPM is not readily available,” it added.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-24July09-2:54 am (BST)