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Female Community Health Workers Essential To Meeting Health MDGs

John Clemens, executive director of the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog about the importance of female community health workers, who “are a cornerstone of Bangladesh’s strategy for achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5,” he states. “The contributions of female community health workers to improving maternal and child health followed a decision by the government of Bangladesh and the non-governmental sector to place greater emphasis on the delivery of both primary healthcare and family planning services, and to have female workers serve on the frontline to deliver these services,” he writes, discussing the country’s experience. Clemens concludes, “Supporting and investing in a women-centered approach to service delivery embodies the equity focus that needs to be central to any country’s plan for achieving the MDGs — and indeed for ensuring the long-term sustainability of gains in child and maternal health” (9/9).