August 2016 – Impact Foundation, Bangladesh
In August we visited Bangladesh to meet with Dr. Hasib Mahmud, Director of Impact Foundation, Bangladesh.
IFB has been working in Bangladesh since 1993 and their mission is to improve the lives of disadvantaged people and their communities. Specifically, they aim to treat, prevent and reduce causes of disability. They established the first floating hospital on the river ways of Bangladesh. The hospital is equipped with trained health staff, medical equipment and has moved from place to place to provide services to poor and disadvantaged communities. They have also established two health centres in one of the densest regions of Bangladesh and provide health care to the poor communities of Chuadunga and Jibon Mela.
We met with Dr. Mahmud to discuss IFB’s local management of a new project called ‘Proshanti’ (which means enjoying peace and tranquillity). The aim of the project is to provide free surgery for disadvantaged women suffering from prolapse.
The incidence of prolapse in South Asia is huge. Research has been done in Nepal which estimates that there are up to 600,000 women (of a population of 27.8 million) suffering from prolapse in that country. With a population of 166 million in Bangladesh, not much research has been done on estimating prolapse numbers in the country. However a recent research study, one of the first to be done on Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) incidence in Bangladesh, estimates about 1 in 6 women in rural Bangladesh suffer from POP (about 15.6%). Increasing age and parity are risk factors for POP and are in line with previous studies. Hence, it is safe to conservatively estimate a huge need for this project.
IFB will be working with local Bangladeshi gynaecologists (12 in 2017), who will provide surgery to poor women who are unable to afford the cost of surgery. In 2016, 8 local Bangladeshi surgeons have been trained in a new technique of surgery that is not taught in Bangladeshi medical schools. In 2017, it is anticipated that three more surgeons will be trained. Each trained surgeon then will perform a maximum of 20 surgeries per month based on set criteria for assessment of the degree of prolapse. These will be monitored by detailed patient forms and follow up calls to a random selection of patients to gather feedback. In addition, post-operative observations will also be recorded by the participating surgeons.
IFB is set up to provide medical and health services to the poorest of the poor, and in such a way, manage disabilities. Living with prolapse is a huge stigma for women and they can often be ostracised from their communities, or be considered cursed. By providing free surgery for women in need, this projects fits in with IFB’s mission.
We are excited by this project because it is like no other in Bangladesh at the moment. With several local Bangladeshi surgeons trained in this new technique, there is scope to train master trainers, who can then train younger gynaecologists who will specialise in the field of birth injury repair. This project will have a cascading effect on the medical community by building the knowledge in Bangladesh.
Impact Foundation, Bangladesh was approved as an International Partner of Partners For Equity in September 2016. The program is set to deliver 8,500 surgeries over the three year period 2017-2019.